CSULB students meet Ellen Prager, marine biologist

The Aquarium of the Pacific invited California State University, Long Beach students to attend an exclusive meet-and-greet with marine biologist and author, Ellen Prager on Tuesday night.

Promoted by the university’s honors program, this event was initially geared towards the program’s honor students but was soon extended to the entire campus.

“We hope that this relationship becomes a consistent element of our program and expands in a way that will lead to further connections with the Long Beach community and bring forth more opportunities for Honors students,” said Trevor Teafatiller, a sophomore biology major and the vice president of the honors program student association.

Valerie Hoffman, a docent for the Aquarium of the Pacific as well as a CSULB alumna said she wanted to give interested students an opportunity to meet with experts, in hopes of learning direction from them after speaking to honors students in November.

“We tried to find a way to involve the students who have that interest and to give them an opportunity to find more motivation and stimulation to following their passions,” Hoffman said.

Prager said her ultimate goal for the night was to motivate people to learn and expand even more from who and where they are in life through her own experiences.

“Never be afraid to ask for opportunities,” Prager said. “Ask for the opportunity and the worst thing they could do is say no but the best thing they could say is yes.”

About 20 CSULB students attended the meet-and-greet. Prager showed the audience significant parts of her life through a slideshow presentation. She said the various sea animals she has encountered and places she traveled helped her career move upward as well as inspire the creation of some of her books.

“How can I make the diversity of life interesting to a person?” Prager said. “Why should they care about it? Hook people with the whacky creature story and then show them why they should care about that in terms of everyday human society as well as the ocean’s ecosystem as a whole.”

Prager then opened up the discussion for students to ask her specific questions.

“What I took from it was the different pathways that she took. Even though she is a scientist, she did other things, especially being in a STEM major which is very textual,” Caitlin Rubia, a freshman computer science major at CSULB said.

Hoffman said Prager was direct and encouraging to those in attendance.

“[Don’t] wait for something to come to you,” Hoffman said. “But instead you go do it. Ask those questions. Ask if you can do things. And that chances are you will be rewarded.”

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