While sitting in the Heathrow airport in London, I thought I'd give some background as to who I am and how I got started on this crazy journey to Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF).
A little biography.... I'm Ali, now more commonly referred to as "Rex" a nickname given to me for my love of reptiles and dinosaurs, and to relieve the confusion since my friend, coworker, and roomate shares the name Ali with me. I'm a fish and wildlife major, focusing on marine and wildlife conservation management at Oregon State University. I am a certified veterinary assistant, dog rescuer, and rock climber. I'm also a music and movie lover, and avid conservationist. I'll probably reference everything from EDM festivals to Star Wars to Blue Planet in my posts, so feel free to ask me questions in the comments.
Having grown up my whole life in southern California, I always knew I wanted to go out of state for school. I had traveled a lot as a kid but still wanted to push my boundaries and comfort zone. Despite tantalizing scholarship offers from Montana State University, my heart belonged to Oregon State.
It all began with my OSU tour. I knew I wanted to work with animals but vet school didn't seem like the right fit, so I was leaning toward zoology. That's when my tour guide told me he was a fish and wildlife major, a degree I had never heard of before. He then added that he had just gone to Africa to intern for a group known as Cheetah Conservation Fund. I still remember my eyes darting over to my Dad, who was already looking at me with almost equal excitement and certainty. This was going to be my home.
In a weird paradox, I wouldn't have gone to OSU without that promise of CCF, but I also would never have made it to CCF without OSU. The lessons, hardships, classes/professors, and truly amazing family I have been given by this university have shaped who I am and given me the strength, confidence, and support I need to go out into the African bush for three months. I am starting my 4th year at Oregon State University in the fall, and am both excited and heartbroken to think of my Oregon adventure coming to an end. But it isn't over yet, and my African adventure is just beginning.
As a nerd and photography fan, as a fun side project, I brought my Yoda doll along to give me the strength and wisdom from the force on my journey! Follow his adventure along with mine as we work, fly, camp, and safari our way through southern Africa on here and our Instagram @yoda_in_africa!