Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The trip that changed my life

Two and a half years ago, I stepped off of the plane after a fourteen-hour flight into the unfamiliar country of India. The air was thick and full of smog, vehicles were flying in all directions, and hundreds of people of various nationalities surrounded our group. At this point, I was not exactly sure what I had gotten myself into, but decided it was time to take a chance.

Since my freshman year at Clemson, I had been medical school bound, taking all of the prerequisites and completing an internship with the Greenville County Medical Examiner.  I had taken the MCAT and completed my medical school applications. However, my life changed when I signed up for a class called Conservation and Biodiversity of India. What set this course apart from the other biological science courses offered was the trip to India over our spring break. Not only would I be introduced to a new culture, I would have the chance to observe Bengal tigers in the wild, most likely a once in a lifetime opportunity. The fact that I could potentially see first hand one of the remaining 3,200 tigers was overwhelming.

After the time spent in the jungles and the brief tiger sightings, I realized how important our efforts as an organization, and even my individual efforts, were in the conservation of these animals. My experiences in India completely altered my view of the world and how I could go about changing it.  Instead of medical school, I decided to pursue a career in law at the University of South Carolina School of Law, especially focusing on environmental law and policy.  Being in India established a strong desire to strive to promote and spread the importance of conservation, especially focusing on the Bengal tigers.  I believe that working with the conservation laws and policies will help get us one step closer to preserving our tigers.

Haley Kernell

Clemson ‘12