Featured Student Friday: Ali Lamberski
It’s #FeaturedStudentFriday, where SFRC highlights a fantastic student or alumnus making a difference in their field. Today’s feature is Ali Lamberski, a graduate of our marine sciences major. Ali earned her BS in 2017, and now works as an Excursion Guide for Wild Africa Trek at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. In her position, she gives exciting and educational guided tours to visitors who want to learn more in depth about how the animals are cared for and Disney’s conservation efforts in the wild.
What’s the best thing about your current position?
Being able to inspire conservation actions in our guests that they can take home and make an impact on their communities. From there they are able to learn more about animals to help them in the wild and become more aware of the impacts humans are having on the environment. Inspiring them to make changes that are beneficial to everyone.
Was there any key thing that set you on the path towards SFRC?
I wanted to have more control over the types of classes I take instead of a traditional biology program. I wanted a school that had plenty of volunteer and research opportunities available. I like that SFRC had plenty of options for classes that I could tailor to my interests and provided those opportunities. Their internship that they offer every summer partnering you with a professor who needs help on a research project was great. Without it I don’t think I would have gotten the valuable experience that has gotten me to where I am today. It’s also not something that is offered at every school so we’re really lucky to have that kind of support.
What drives you? Why is this important or significant to you personally?
I’ve always wanted my job to have a sense of purpose and feel like I’m making a difference. With Disney, I’ve had the opportunity to work on youth and adult education and I’ve had several guests get excited to talk about the changes they’ve made to help the environment. Walt Disney has a quote “Conservation isn’t just the business of a few people. It’s a matter that concerns all of us.” and I feel like helping people realize this is my small way of making a difference. Conservation isn’t about a few people being perfect, but several people just trying their best and thats what I want people to realize.
What were your struggles to get where you are today?
The hardest part after graduation is the struggle to find a job. It can be really difficult because you have so many talented people all looking to make a difference and wanting to help. I was very fortunate to get an internship working with the youth education team as soon as I finished. But when that internship ended, there weren’t any positions available on my current team. I was basically on a waiting list and as soon as someone left I could start with them. I actually took a job as a lifeguard for a few months just to pay bills. The most frustrating part was knowing what I wanted to do with my degree but feeling stuck. It can be hard waiting and finding the perfect job and its frustrating sometimes but I knew it was what I wanted and was willing to wait.
What advice would you give to another student just starting out?
Reach out to your professors about learning more and volunteering. When they offer you a volunteer position, go as often as you can and never be afraid to ask questions or learn about their work. It’s a lot of trial and error to find what you’re passionate about. Sometimes you may find what you really wanted to work with isn’t your calling at all, so be open to anything. Talk with them when you’re struggling with something and get help. They want to see you succeed so always reach out. When I was there I was so focused on one particular path that I felt like I should follow that I didn’t really consider any other option. Go in with an open mind and try everything before you commit to one thing.
Do you have any favorite memory of your time at SFRC?
I always really enjoyed our time on seahorse key with the Marine Biology Club! Getting to spend the night exploring the island, cleaning it up for visitors and talking to guests was where I started to realize I wanted to go into education instead of research. So it was another great opportunity to go outside my comfort zone!
Are you working on anything exciting you’d like to share?
I’m currently working on my Master’s in Global Strategic Communication at UF. I’ll graduate in the spring and hope to continue to educate at one of the busiest theme parks and zoos in the country! I’ve also been featured on the Disney Parks blog and the Orlando Sentinel talking about giraffe conservation so I hope to continue working with that!