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Shark Therapy: Student Overcomes Personal Fear in Galapagos
Emily Sella '17

May 01, 2015

Emily Sella, a junior at Susquehanna University, was safe and sound on a boat off the coast of the Galapagos Islands. Below her, there were hammerhead and Galapagos sharks. Right then, she had to make the decision to play it safe or take a chance—the personal theme of her whole Global Opportunities (GO) experience in the Galapagos Islands.

"I wanted to go somewhere I might never have the opportunity to go to again," said Sella, a double major in psychology and sociology. "I wanted to step outside of my comfort zone and push the boundaries a little bit."

And so she entered the water, swam with the sharks and came home a changed person. Both sharks are generally not aggressive toward humans, but the tell-tale fin and tail are enough to make anyone rethink swimming with them.

"Fear is not as big as you make it out to be," she said. "I have had anxiety issues in the past, so this was a big moment for me-finally pushing through and doing all these things I never thought I could or would be able to do."

The trip to the Galapagos wasn't just about swimming with sharks. As the first students on a GO trip to the archipelago, this intrepid group of 14, with professors John Bodinger and Carlos Iudica guiding the way, researched issues such as a lack of potable water, waste disposal and controlling invasive species from the viewpoint of their own disciplines.

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