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Samantha Reyes, or Sam in short, is a curious, fun-loving, hard-working and adventurous person! She is also a thoughtful daughter and older sister, and will persevere through any obstacle that she faces. Sam is an inquisitive learner with passions for Girl Scouts and science who is inspired by David Attenborough, and seeks to make an impact in the area of marine biology. 

The Story

One of the most important lessons that Sam learned occurred when she was applying for a volunteer opportunity. This was meaningful and exciting for her because the organization was involved with manta rays, one of Sam’s favorite animals. It was also an international organization which Sam had found online through Instagram, and the aim of the organization was to get teenagers around the world who would meet and provide materials for them to do projects spreading awareness. However, Sam was also running around and tending to other matters, and although important, this was not a priority for her. She put the application off until the last minute, and even when completing it, she did not put in as much effort, thinking she would get in like she always did before. A couple weeks later, Sam received the email that her application was denied, and reality hit her. Sam knew that she had not put her best work into it, but the deferral was like a refresher to her. While it was a disappointing result, it provided Sam with an opportunity to re-assess her priorities and work on managing her time better. Sam is grateful for this lesson because she remembers it each time she would like to apply for something, and now she plans better and makes sure to put in her best effort into everything she does. 


As a sophomore, Sam is taking 3 AP classes: AP World History, AP Precalculus, and AP Physics. Sam is also captain of her sports team, which she joined the previous year. She has medaled in various piano competitions, both local and international, as well as excelled in the Certificate of Merit program’s Level 10. She is an active Girl Scout and has been for almost 10 years, currently working on her Gold Award, the highest award that a Girl Scout can earn which positively impacts the community and has long-lasting effects. Finally, Sam attended and engaged in Tony Robbins’ Global Youth Leadership Summit in 2023 and was accepted for a second year as an Alumni in 2024, as well as attending a Leadership Camp in 2023 to help her become a better captain. 


One of Sam’s biggest passions lies in ocean conservation. When Sam was two years old, she visited the Florida aquarium and discovered a keen interest for marine biology. Since then, she has visited various other aquariums, such as the Monterey Bay aquarium and the Georgia Aquarium. Sam has also traveled around the world for snorkeling, and more recently, scuba diving! Some of her favorite excursions were night snorkeling with Manta Rays in Hawaii, cage diving in South Africa with Bronze Whaler Sharks, and getting Open Water certified in Cozumel in August 2023. She also went on a National Geographic Student Travel to Baja California. To take the next step, Sam has done various projects and volunteering opportunities. She adopted a seal at the Pacific Marine Mammal Center and talked to restaurant managers about reducing the use of plastic straws before the law in California was implemented when she was in 5th grade. In the summer of 2023, Sam also volunteered at the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, teaching people about various ecosystems and animals in the waters of Southern California. She is still working with the aquarium today, having been selected to be an active participant in Teen Science Cafe, in which she works with a group of teens to help raise awareness and spread the work of other marine biologists. To add on, Sam volunteers with Nancy Caruso, a marine biologist who has founded the non-profit Get Inspired. Sam has gone out and done field work in order to help conduct a survey about the amount of pismo clams in the beaches of Southern California. Finally, she is starting a research project with the question of how biodiversity in her local beaches differs depending on the environment and the season. 


Sam’s dream goal for college is to get accepted into her dream institution, and she seeks to further grow her intellectual curiosity in research facilities such as the Duke Marine Lab, and be able to start her research there. After college, Sam aspires to become an avid marine biologist, studying her own discovered research questions and learning more about everything unexplored. Sam also would like to spread awareness and create a global change in a positive step towards helping and healing the environment.

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