Graduate profile

Sophie Charles

"Since graduating from Surrey I have worked in sea turtle rescue, hands-on marine mammal care, ocean conservation and biology education... We need passionate people in these fields, now more than ever!"

Graduation year

2021

Memories from Surrey: societies and science...

I fell in love with Surrey’s campus as soon as I arrived for an Open Day. I loved how green it was, with its fields, woodlands and lakes – it really embraces the natural beauty the rest of Surrey prides itself on.  

It was great to be part of different societies and communities as a student. I ended up being elected president of the Yoga Society for two of my three years, and we had so many achievements, including winning awards at the annual Students’ Union Society Awards. I joined Surrey Surf on a trip to Newquay, Cornwall, and I was grateful to be elected course rep for Biological Sciences in my final year. 

I also took part in the Global Graduate Award in Sustainability in my final year as extra credit. This has played a vital role in my work today! 

The best thing about my course was the doors it opened up for me. Dr Lorenzo Santorelli was a fantastic personal tutor who supported my career dreams from day one. My course allowed me to delve into so many areas of biological sciences, broadening my skill set and improving my employability. I was able to fine-tune my interests by the end of my final year and now, years later, I work in areas of biology I truly love and feel I can have an impact in, all thanks to the experiences I had at Surrey. 

"Squeeze out everything you can as a student, as the experience you gain will benefit you tenfold in a highly competitive field." 

My life now: rehabilitating dolphins and interning for IFAW

After graduating, I continued my studies and attended Cambridge University, completing my PGCE in science education, specialising in biology. I enjoyed two years teaching science at GCSE and A-Level in schools and colleges in Cambridgeshire and Essex. 

I then moved to the United States and returned to my passions: marine biology and animal conservation. I now split my time between two roles. I work at the National Aquarium in Baltimore as a Marine Mammal Assistant Trainer, assisting in the daily care, enrichment and husbandry training of our six Atlantic bottlenose dolphins ahead of their rehabilitation to North America’s first ever dolphin ocean sanctuary. 

I am also an intern with the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW). I work on exciting projects and real-time developments in the animal conservation area, including the Room to Roam initiative, which works to create safe passages for protected species in their home ranges of East and southern Africa, and their marine conservation programme, which centres around how human actions are endangering the largest creatures in our planet’s largest habitat. We are currently creating whale watching programmes and animal rescue responses along the east coast of the United States.  

My advice? Follow your passions

Embrace every experience with enthusiasm: attend all the lectures that pique your interest, join in on the field trips, ask academics niche questions… squeeze out everything you can as a student, as the experience you gain will benefit you tenfold in a highly competitive field. 

If you have a specific passion in science, don’t let trends, opinions or the expectations of others stop you from striving for it. I was told by a teacher at school that wanting to be a marine biologist was a silly career choice, but since graduating from Surrey I have worked in sea turtle rescue, hands-on marine mammal care, ocean conservation and biology education… And I make sure to teach my school students that there’s no such thing as a silly career choice. We need passionate people in these fields, now more than ever! 

 

Find out more about our Biological Sciences BSc.

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