One thing I have always admired about Indiana University is the diverse student population. It is so important to recognize people with different backgrounds, ideas, skills, and experiences. I had the pleasure of talking with Curtis Hall, an IU student studying Parks, Recreation, and Ecology, who has brought nothing but positive diversity to our campus.
Finding your true passion in life is one the greatest gifts you can receive. While talking to Curtis, I could clearly tell that he had found his true passion in life, the United States National Park Service. After serving our country multiple years in the military and overseas combat, Curtis needed to find a serene environment to come home to. Following his deployment, he went to various national parks in order to feel a sense of peace and found solace in the beauty that is found in nature.
Curtis was proactive about finding an internship opportunity with the National Park Service because of his passion. He went searching on USAjobs.gov, a site that lists all federal employment positions, and created a profile that would narrow down the kind of work he was interested in. He found an opportunity with the National Park Service that caught his interest. Curtis was interested in looking for something in the Caribbean area because of his love of fishing and scuba diving from when he was young. Although the applications for the internship with National Park Services–more specifically in Dry Tortugas, Florida–were very competitive, he continued to apply. Competing with over 300 applicants, Curtis got the internship.
The Dry Tortugas National Park is located in the Gulf of Mexico close to Key West, Florida. There are no inhabitants on the Dry Tortugas and being America’s most remote national park, a boat is need to reach the seven islands. However, that hasn’t always been the case. As a self-proclaimed history nerd, I was fascinated to learn about the history of the islands from Curtis. The great explorer Ponce de León found and gave the islands the name Las Tortugas, meaning the turtles. The name was later changed to the Dry Tortugas to warn those of the lack of water on the islands. An interesting fact about the islands is that Fort Jefferson, found on one of the islands, was used as a prison. Dr. Samuel Mudd who was made famous for being James Wilkes Booth’s doctor during the time of the Lincoln assassination was imprisoned on the Dry Tortugas.
Not only do the islands have a rich history, they also have a rich biodiversity abundant with coral reefs, species of birds, and sea life. Check out this video featuring IU’s very own Curtis Hall diving into the water show how truly beautiful the Dry Tortugas National Park is. https://artsandculture.withgoogle.com/en-us/national-parks-service/dry-tortugas/near-little-africa-tour
Learning from Curtis about his experience finding his internship and living out his dream in the Dry Tortugas was so inspiring. It reaffirmed my belief of how important it is to try and turn your dreams into realities. I want to leave you with this quote from Curtis on why he chose to intern with the National Park Service. I hope you are as inspired by his journey as I am. “It is said…they’re “Americas greatest idea.” To many yes, and that is great. However, I believe they are evolving places where we can reconcile relationships with nature, each other, and our inner selves.”
Just a girl trying to get through her senior year, one cup of coffee at a time.