Student Recognition

Alec Youngblood

Alec Youngblood

As I dozed in and out of twilight sleep through the early morning hours, shadows brushed and comforted me. They were misunderstood monsters, not threatening or menacing. They passed within mere meters of my father and me, the leopard, the dogfish and the giant seven gill sharks.

At the age of six, my father and I traveled to the Oregon Coast Aquarium for a weekend and my early fascination with aquatic lifeforms was transformed into a lifelong passion. I stood inside the jaws of a Megalodon and spent the night in the shark tunnel. Gazing up at the magnificent silhouettes of these fish as they stoically drift by, instilling both a sense of inevitability and wonderment.

As a young child, my literary collection was very different from most other children. Zoology of all varieties was my domain. My collection of encyclopedias featured everything from today’s terra inhabitants, to long-lost denizens, such as dinosaurs, to cryptozoology subjects such as Sasquatch. My favorites, however, have always been volumes devoted to sea life.

It had been a dream of mine to scuba dive my entire life and the experience absolutely lived up to my expectations. Under the surface, it’s an entirely different world. At first, the concept of being helpless at the bottom of the ocean seems fairly daunting, but the presence alone of the instructors at Scuba Specialties NW expels that notion immediately.

Rod, Dan, and the other instructors seem to know everything there is to know about the ocean and have a solution to every problem. They were able to help me accomplish one of my dreams and did so almost effortlessly.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, even though 71% of the earth’s surface is covered by oceans, 95% of the underwater world remains unexplored. The ocean is an expanse of beauty and mystery and I hope to lessen that percentage.

The rate at which humans are consuming the oceans’ resources is very discouraging. Hopefully being armed with a degree in marine biology and my newfound scuba skills, I will be able to explore the ocean and become an influential ecologist. My goal is to preserve the integrity and perpetuity of the ocean.


Angela Thumberg


Angela on a very successful open-water weekend at “The Shellfish Lab” in Hoods Canal.


Sometimes you go through various experiences in your life which affect you in some way. Over 10 years ago I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, which affects the muscles and soft tissues. Symptoms include chronic muscle pain, fatigue, sleep problems, and painful tender points or trigger points, which can be relieved through medications, lifestyle changes and stress management. I used to be really active so it was difficult to hear the diagnosis, and unfortunately let the frustrations and challenges affect my happiness and well-being. I wanted to do things but was always in pain. It’s not until you find your own internal motivation that an experience really becomes a defining moment. I made a “bucket list” and Scuba Diving was on it. To be honest when I started taking the class it was to mark it off my “bucket list”… Learning Scuba was such an incredible experience.  I found it difficult the first day in the pool (not the best swimmer). I didn’t pass my first open water. But on the second open water, I succeeded. The first 4 dives you learn how to achieve buoyancy, underwater communication signals, taking your mask off underwater (which was hard for me, but was so proud of myself because I did it), replacing the mask while clearing out excess water, and soooo much more. The exhilaration of breathing underwater, the peace and calm of feeling weightless, and seeing the vast underwater world is absolutely amazing. So of course my next step was to take Advanced Scuba. The first dive was navigation that we did by ourselves…I was a little hesitant. Again, I made myself proud, I did it. Which truly made me feel on top of the world. Without an instructor, it really makes you feel like you’re a true diver. Scuba is a fun way to not only build confidence in yourself, but to experience the amazing life that exists in the ocean. It really makes you appreciate the ecosystem and gets you in touch with what mankind is doing to destroy this fragile habitat. Once you sink yourself 18 meters below the ocean with a friend on your side as you navigate, you really feel like you can tackle the fear of anything else that stands in your way. Bottom line: Get out into the ocean. It really is a majestic world that we know nothing about. It covers more than 70% of the earth and yet we know more about the moon. Once you see it with your own eyes and learn about the unique ecosystem, you will have a new outlook on life. You’ll appreciate water management more and keeping the ocean and waterways clean. I’m definitely hooked and can’t wait to go again.  I had fun classmates and the instructors are AMAZING!!!  I love to travel and now my goal is to explore not only the world above but also below the water.