BOONE, N.C.—Jordan Boles went to Ocean Isle Beach with a bicycle, a backpack and a dream to help save sea turtles as an intern with the Ocean Isle Beach Sea Turtle Protection Organization (OIBSTPO) in Brunswick County.
Boles left the island at the end of the summer with the satisfaction of having helped to release dozens of hatchlings into the ocean, and a better idea of how to channel her Appalachian State University degree and interests toward a possible career.
“I thought a lot about the ocean and aquatic life in my time spent on the coast this summer. It’s awe-inspiring when you begin to imagine the sheer force and importance of our oceans,” she said. “I want to use my marketing skills to market the idea of taking care of our environment; specifically, our oceans and their beautiful creatures.”
Boles, who is from High Point, is majoring in communication with an emphasis in public relations. After graduation in 2018, she’d like to work in marketing for a nonprofit with a focus on the environment or for an environmentally conscious company. She’s also a first-generation college student in the Appalachian Commitment to a College Education for Student Success (ACCESS) program. ACCESS provides scholarships and support that allow students to graduate without debt.
“Growing up was hard. We didn’t necessarily go without. Somehow we scraped quarters and change at times to grab a loaf of bread,” she said. “This means for me, I didn’t get to vacation at the beach as often as other kids. That made moving to the beach an absolutely incredible experience.”
Even with ACCESS, Boles might not have been able to accept the internship without a $5,000 grant from the State Employees’ Credit Union (SECU) Public Service Fellows program. The grant helped cover the cost of a modest room rental. Without the grant, Boles said she couldn’t have afforded housing at the beach.
“That was my ability to be a normal student and move and immerse myself in the internship and not have to worry,” she said.
While an intern with OIBSTPO, Boles served as the face of the organization, talking with local news outlets about turtles, planning festivals and educating the public about the sea turtles that frequent Ocean Isle Beach.
One of Boles’ most vivid memories is receiving a call after a bad storm. A group of baby turtles had hatched and needed help getting out to sea. Boles and other volunteers went to the beach, gathered and placed the turtles in a cooler and swam with them into the ocean.
“The sea turtles took me to a great place,” she said. “I know when I graduate I want to help our planet be a better place. I want my children to someday be able to enjoy the beauty that our wonderful world has to offer without it being tarnished by pollution or the negative impacts of climate change.”
About SECU and the SECU Foundation
A not-for-profit financial cooperative owned by its members, SECU has been providing employees of the State of North Carolina and their families with consumer financial services for almost 78 years. The SECU Foundation, a 501c (3) charitable organization funded solely by the contributions of SECU members, promotes local community development in North Carolina primarily through high impact projects in the areas of housing, education, healthcare and human services. The SECU Public Service Fellows program has two broad aims: to help build capacity in rural communities, which are prone to talent drains, and to generate interest in job opportunities that are closer to home for many students.
About the College of Fine and Applied Arts
Appalachian State University’s College of Fine and Applied Arts is a dynamic and innovative group of seven academic departments, bringing together a variety of perspectives, experiences and real-world education to provide unique opportunities for student success. The college has more than 3,000 undergraduate and graduate majors. Its departments are Applied Design, Art, Communication, Military Science and Leadership, Sustainable Development, Sustainable Technology and the Built Environment, and Theatre and Dance.
About Appalachian State University
Appalachian State University, in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains, prepares students to lead purposeful lives as global citizens who understand and engage their responsibilities in creating a sustainable future for all. The transformational Appalachian experience promotes a spirit of inclusion that brings people together in inspiring ways to acquire and create knowledge, to grow holistically, to act with passion and determination, and embrace diversity and difference. As one of 17 campuses in the University of North Carolina system, Appalachian enrolls about 19,000 students, has a low student-to-faculty ratio and offers more than 150 undergraduate and graduate majors.