Sonya Padron

Bilingual Education Specialist
Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary

Q. How did you end up in the field you are in today?

A. I was not happy with the lack of diversity of my fellow students in my science classes, so I decided to do something about it. I want to see a decrease in high school dropouts and an increase in the number of Latinos and other underrepresented students who graduate from college, especially in the sciences.

Q. What advice would you give to kids who are interested in studying science?

A. You don’t have to be an old man with crazy hair to really like science. Find one thing in nature that you really like and start learning more about that one thing—that’s all you need to do to be a scientist.

Q. How and where do you conduct your work?

A. I spend about 50 percent of my time working in my offices in Monterey and Santa Cruz, California. I spend the other 50 percent of my time working with students. I work at schools in Seaside, Marina, Salinas, Watsonville, Pajaro, and Freedom. I also take students into the field. We visit Elkhorn Slough, go tidepooling in Santa Cruz and Pacific Grove, search for animals at the mudflats in Moss Landing, paint “No Dumping” signs on sidewalks, and monitor water quality in local streams, creeks and rivers.

Q. When you are not working, what do you like to do for fun?

A. I like yoga, swimming, rock climbing, and traveling around the world.

JASON Learning: A Partnership of Sea Research Foundation and National Geographic