Thursday, April 17, 2014

Student aspires to train dolphins

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  • Published: October 30th, 2012

As graduation approaches, many seniors frantically search for jobs and finalize career plans. Liberty University student Sherri Waldrop, however, has no doubt about her plans for the future.

Waldrop has known since she was 9 years old, when she first swam with dolphins in Florida, that she wanted to spend the rest of her life working as a dolphin trainer.

“From that moment on, whenever anyone would ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up, the answer was a dolphin trainer,” Waldrop said.

Dolphin — Waldrop trained dolphins in Bermuda. Photo provided

Because Liberty has no degree for dolphin training, Waldrop chose to pursue a degree in psychology with a minor in biology. Now, only four classes stand between her and her dreams.

When discussing her future plans, Waldrop is confident.

“It’s not a matter of if I will reach my goal, it is just a matter of time,” Waldrop said.

Dolphin training is a difficult field to get into due to its competitive nature, but Waldrop is not letting this discourage her.

“I am keeping an open mind about where I want to end up eventually, because as long as I am working with animals, I will be happy,” Waldrop said.

Waldrop grew up around animals, and it is obvious that that is where her passions lie.
In addition to owning various family pets, she has also been involved in rescuing injured animals. This summer, Waldrop spent three months alongside dolphins and various other sea animals for an internship at Dolphin Quest.

Dolphin Quest’s website boasts of “creating a place where people and dolphins could share the wonder of close interaction.” Their mission is to educate people and work toward conserving marine life.

Only a few days after finishing classes this spring, Waldrop headed toward Bermuda for the internship. It was a busy summer. Most days started around 7 a.m. and were filled with a variety of tasks deigned to further Waldrop’s experience and skills.

“Through this internship, I was completely immersed in the life and duties of a dolphin trainer and learned so much more than I ever expected,” Waldrop said.

Over the course of her time at Liberty, Waldrop has faced some obstacles. Planning has not been as easy for Waldrop as it is for other students. Dolphin training is not a commonly sought after career, but according to an article by the News & Advance, Waldrop got some help with her resume from her career counselor at Liberty, Michele Worley.

“There have been times where I felt like I was wasting my time or totally lost because nothing seemed relevant. But I stuck with it, and through my internship, I have found that I am on the right track and now just months away from the finish line. It’s a good feeling,” Waldrop said.

Although Waldrop would like to end up working in show training at a place like Sea World, she has many other possibilities in mind. Research training for navy work or interaction training similar to the internship she participated in this summer are both fields that interest Waldrop.

Regardless of where she ends up, Waldrop has her parents to thank.

“I could not have achieved any of this without the support of my parents who have always been there for me … and taught me that through hard work and determination, I can achieve my dream,” Waldrop said.

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