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Campus Celeb: Kaiti Sheehan and the New Club in Town

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UNCW chapter.

Name: Kaiti Sheehan

Age: 21

Hometown: Durham, NC

Major: Double major in Marine Biology and Environmental Science with (concentrations in conservation and biological studies, respectively), and a minor in nonprofit management.

Dream job: Ideally, I would love to start my own 501c3 nonprofit in the world of conservation! I love advocating for the animals that are the underdogs in the world of conservation that the public is apathetic towards — organisms that, if they don’t have someone speaking up for them, won’t be here in the next 50 years.

Favorite TV show: I don’t know if it’s my favorite, but I’ve watched Friends the most because it’s such easy background noise and the jokes are still pretty relevant to today.

Favorite place in Wilmington: 24 South Coffee, down on the river. They have the BEST dirty chai latte in town. I love grabbing a coffee there and then walking down to the river.

Her Campus: How did you choose UNCW?

Kaiti Sheehan: I applied to a lot of different schools and I knew I wanted to go into Marine Biology, so it was a matter of finding a school close enough to the beach. It wasn’t originally on my top list, that was UMiami, and I looked at a bunch of others, but I realized that they were all really far away. Through the request of my parents I toured UNCW and the campus spoke to me — it felt like a little slice of home, and it was close enough to home so I could go home but my parents couldn’t come surprise me. It ended up being one of the best decisions I’ve ever made to come and study here.


HC: What has been your favorite memory?

KS: Wow, there’s been a lot. What’s coming to mind first was my freshman year, volunteering alongside Jessie Jarvis, my Bio 202 teacher. She hosts this event called the Blue Heron Bowl, where MarineQuest brings in all these younger individuals to compete in a marine biology questionnaire competition, and it was awe-inspiring to see all these young individuals talk about and already know about these huge marine biology and oceanography concepts that I was learning about. It was the first time I saw how much passion could develop at a young age, and it gave me hope for future generations.

HC: How have you gotten involved at UNCW?

KS: When I was a first-semester freshman, I went to the career application process for the rec center. I went to some of the meetings and they talked about the different jobs that were available, and they started talking about personal training and group fitness. I’d done group fitness in the past back in Durham with my mom, so I was to some extent well-versed in the world of group fitness. I’ve worked there since December 2016 and have slowly moved up to be the program assistant. I essentially am the direct management between group fitness staff and higher management, and I work on the day-to-day actions, as well as cultivating a positive work environment. I’ve absolutely loved my job since I became the PA. More recently, since it’s a relatively new club, I became the secretary for 350UNCW.


HC: What is 350 UNCW?

KS: We are an environmental advocacy club on campus with the main purpose of bringing to light the catastrophic effect that climate change has had, with the current goal of divesting UNCW — getting us off of fossil fuels. Other schools already have, including NC State, UNC Greensboro, UNC Charlotte, and UNCW Asheville. It’s our turn to divest, especially since we’re the school right next to the ocean. UNCW decided to invest in the UNC Management Company, which invests in fossil fuels. 

Kaiti and 350 UNCW walking out! Photo Courtesy of StarNews

HC: How can others get involved?

KS: Awesome question! We host meetings every other week, and you can follow us on Instagram @350UNCW. We’re also the first club that comes up on WaveLink, and feel free to email us any questions about joining at 350uncw@gmail.com. We host events to bring awareness to the environmental issues in our area, so check out our page and come to our next event! We recently did a campus walkout that had a pretty good turnout.


HC: What is some advice you could give to underclassmen?

KS: Follow your passion. I will be the first person to admit I struggled like hell through my feeder classes, becoming a fitness instructor, and becoming a secretary. I learned that perseverance is key. It’s cheesy, but if first you don’t succeed try, try, try again. I came into UNCW with starry eyes hoping to make a significant impact in the world, and that hasn’t changed. My dreams of making an impact have, if anything, increased tenfold. Aldo Leopold, famously said, “There are some that can live without wild things and some who cannot.” I know I can’t, and if we don’t act we’ll lose the wild things.

HC: Fun fact about you?

KS: I lived on a boat for a month! I went to seven different islands and did reef biodiversity surveying, which was honestly what made me realize marine biology was what I wanted to do. With that, I scuba dive too.


I have a 26-pound cat! He’s HUGE. I’m not even sure he’s 100% cat anymore. He’s fluffy as all get-out and his name is Big Al. He was actually the runt of the litter and I took him in in high school and he was as tiny as my palm. And he grew and he grew and he didn’t stop growing. The rest of his siblings are normal sized but not Big Al! I don’t think he realizes it though!


All photos provided by Kaiti Sheehan unless otherwise specified. 

Iowa girl living in North Carolina