CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – Hard work and dedication will finally pay off for ambitious Islander graduate, Josette Delgado, as she walks the stage of the American Bank Center to receive a Master of Science in Marine Biology from Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. Delgado is one of 460 summer Islander graduates earning degrees on Aug. 6.
“What we know about marine systems is very limited,” said Delgado. “It’s hard to study, yet there is so much to learn.”
The El Paso, Texas, native took advantage of many once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to achieve her academic goals. In 2015, Delgado spent three weeks aboard a research vessel in New Zealand, studying methane hydrates at key locations of tectonic plate interaction. Delgado was in charge of the geochemistry lab, gaining experience with ion and gas chromatography.
“It was incredible to go out on a large research vessel in the open ocean,” said the first-generation college graduate. “It allowed me to see the great difference from doing research on our local bays, and to experience other scientists’ different backgrounds and specialties.”
During her time in South Texas, Delgado interned at the Texas General Land Office and also held a position at the Texas State Aquarium as both an education facilitator and a Sea Camp education counselor.
"It’s important to teach children about their ecosystems and how it changes due to human interaction,” said the 25-year old. “I’m thrilled to be able to teach children about conservation, recycling and doing all those little things that are important to preserve ecosystems for future generations.”
Delgado also worked as a Texas A&M-Corpus Christi teaching assistant and as a graduate research assistant at the Isotope Core Laboratory on campus. She credits Dr. Paula Rose, Research Associate of the Department of Physical and Environmental Sciences and head of the Isotope Core Lab, for supporting her through the challenges of grad school.
“Dr. Rose has been here for me my entire three years at TAMU-CC,” said Delgado. “She taught me how to be a woman in the science community, how to do research and how to overcome obstacles that stand in my way.”
Rose says Delgado is considered ‘the face’ of the Isotope Core Lab, and is one of the few students she trusts to work with some of the most sensitive and delicate instruments on campus.
Despite a schedule that keeps her days off few and far between, Delgado finds the time to be a mother to her six-month-old daughter, Aurian. While Delgado admits there were times she wanted to quit the master’s program and pursue a teaching certification instead, Aurian proved to be the perfect inspiration to finish school.
“From Aurian, I find the encouragement to finish all that I have going on,” said Delgado.
Delgado took charge of her independence and education by earning more than 10 different scholarships during her collegiate career, some of them for multiple years.
The future is bright for Delgado, who hopes to publish her master’s thesis, “The Trophic Ecology of Porcelain Crabs Petrolisthes spp. on Oyster Reefs.” Delgado is also planning on pursuing a teaching certification in life sciences for grades 7-12. She intends to stay at the Isotope Core Lab for a few months post-graduation, while she searches for full-time laboratory management work. She encourages other students to try new things whenever possible.
“If you can get in the lab and learn how to run an instrument, or if you can go out in the field with different scientists, do it,” she said. “If they’re using different techniques in their research that you’ve never used before, learn how to use them. Make it so that when someone asks you if you can do this, you can tell them, ‘Yes, I can.’ That’s going to put you at the top of the list when people are looking for help or for a new employee, because you have learned the skills they are looking for, and you are willing to take chances.”