A day in the life of a marine biology major

Written by: 
Antoniette Yee

Kristen Lorraine Schlegel, a junior marine biology major from South Carolina, said she was inspired to choose her major by Steve Irwin, who shaped how she views animals and the planet. “I feel so strongly that the animals on earth are here for a reason. They all have value and should be protected and preserved for future generations,” she said.

What made you decide to study this major?

“Growing up in the southern part of the United States has shaped my mindset in a certain way about animals and nature. I grew up with snakes and alligators literally in my backyard. I also grew up watching Steve Irwin, who is my inspiration and basically who I want to become. He always showed the animals respect and stressed the importance of conservation work, saving the animals, and the planet.”

What makes your major unique?

“It is a great major if you want to travel. Especially at BYU-Hawaii, you can get more hands-on experience and other opportunities like traveling for the school to do research in some pretty awesome places like Alaska and Saipan.”

What do you want to do with it?

“Conservation. The love you can receive from animals is more rewarding than anything I have ever experienced in my life. I would also love to have the opportunity to work with my favorite animal, which is the beluga whale, and travel all over the world. The combination of my love for travel and animals is my dream experience.”

Favorite class

“My favorite class is Marine Biology (BIOL 212) [and the lab (BIOL 212L)]. We go out in the field for every lab, and we gather specimens to see them up close. We also get to go all around the island and find marine animals in places that you wouldn’t typically look for them. I love having the hands-on experience while having fun with all types of animals.”

Describe a typical day

“I start my day by going to work at the Museum of Natural History on campus. Most people don’t even know that our campus has a museum. You should come check it out sometime; we are open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. I go to my biology classes and go back to work. When I go back to work, my coworkers and I work with specimens in various ways for the museum.”

Number of people in the major

Danielle Kinikini, the academic advisor for biology, said there are 61 students in the marine biology major.

Time spent in a day

“My whole day is spent doing work for my major classes, which is 90 percent of my [course] load.”


“It is possible for me to travel a lot and experience many hands-on opportunities. I get to work with all types of animals, which is super fun, and I go on a lot of field trips. I’m living my dream with my major because I get to work with animals all day long.”


“People usually think you’re smart if you’re a marine biology major, which adds pressure to do really well. There is so much work to do which makes it stressful. It is a hard major because I have to deal with a lot of memorization and formulas. The classes can be a bit overwhelming, but in the end, it is rewarding and worth it.”

Date Published: 
Friday, May 19, 2017
Last Edited: 
Friday, May 19, 2017