Students in Action

Rob Skoumal

West Des Moines, IA

Rob Skoumal
Major: Marine Science (Geophysics Track)
Minor: Mathematics
Tell us a little about yourself. What makes you a unique Eckerd student?

I lived 18 years of my life in a large suburb in Iowa, but I was set on studying marine science from a young age. My journey from landlocked agriculture state to Eckerd has been full of wonderful experiences. I received the Marine Science Freshmen Research Scholarship, was accepted into the Honors Program, completed an internship with the Florida Fish and Wildlife, received the NOAA Hollings Scholarship, was accepted into the Ford Scholar program, became an Activator, co-founded the Campus Sustainability Congress, and I went to Roatan, Honduras with a couple of my professors last winter term…all within two years. I would not have accomplished any of these things if it had not been for Eckerd. Although this individualized list of achievements makes me a unique Eckerd student, many other students can share their own list of accomplishments due to the many opportunities that Eckerd provides.

Why did you decide to attend EC?

After my first visit to Eckerd, the thing I remembered most was the student body. I had visited many colleges before, but never before had students made any effort to welcome perspective students. Little things like students saying ‘hello’ or holding the door for people made a huge impact on me during my visit. The professors and faculty that I met were extremely friendly, and I felt like I belonged long before I had even applied.

I have friends that applied to more than 20 colleges, and I know other people that made their college decision based on the flip of the coin. This was not the case for me. In fact, Eckerd was the only college that I applied to. I completed the online application early and found out I was accepted before any of my other college applications were due. The generous scholarships that I received sweetened the deal even further, and my mind was set.

The first year of college can have a profound affect on the other 3 years; what was the defining moment of your Autumn Term experience and/or freshman year?

When one of the prerequisites for a class is ‘you must be a good swimmer,’ that’s a good indication that it is going to be great class. My Autumn Term class was called Paradise Lost: Florida’s Fragile Environment with Professor Irby. When you are studying Florida’s environment, it doesn’t make sense to sit inside a classroom. Professor Irby took us on many, many field trips to explore Florida’s environment first hand. We had plenty of work to do (even when we were evacuated for a potential hurricane), but what I remember the best from my freshmen year all happened during my exploration of the Florida environment with Professor Irby.

How would you describe the academic environment at Eckerd?

Those who are not dedicated to their studies do not do very well. The professors I have had are very demanding, but they are always fair. Although classes may be tough at times, getting help is as simple as walking into your professor’s office or calling up a classmate. I believe anyone can be successful at Eckerd as long as they work to the best of their ability.

Do you have a "that's so Eckerd" moment? What is it?

I received an internship with Florida Fish and Wildlife helping to develop a computer program to automate a recirculating aquaculture system in the fall of 2009. So I wanted to see if I could get class credit for my internship. It was remarkably easy to do so; I talked with a couple professors, got some signatures on some forms, and I was set. I didn't have a car to commute to the internship, but thanks to Campus Activities and an awesome friend, I was able to visit the facility at least a couple times a week. After the completion of the internship, I presented what I did to my sponsoring professor. The professor encouraged me to present my findings at the annual American Fisheries Conference, and even drove me to the conference. What I thought would be a simple project became so much more, thanks to all of the wonderful people who provided me with a means to do so.

How do you describe the social scene at Eckerd?

There are no boundaries. Most people eventually develop a group of friends that they usually hang out with, but it is amazing how easy it is to get to know new people. I am quite introverted, but I still find it easy to meet other students.

What has been your favorite class and why?

Each class is challenging and interesting in its own way, which makes it hard to decide. Even classes that some people may think are boring, such as Western Heritage, are interesting because I have had amazing professors to make the class enjoyable. Among my favorite classes are Earth Structure, Computer Models in Science, Leadership and Self Discovery Practicum, Paradise Lost, Marine Science Freshman Research, and Roatan’s Tropical Marine Environment, but I have greatly enjoyed every class I have taken.

Using 5 words or less complete this sentence: Eckerd is…

…a place to discover.

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