Life's A Ball at Sea Life Park
Shelly Marie Nicole Potts, a small town girl from Wakarusa, Ind., took a big leap of faith last year after graduating and moved to Hawaii Kai, Hawaii to follow one of her passions.
Psychology, Sociology & Business
Living her dream
“I believe that I like animals more than the average person. God created me with a passion for animals that could not be contained. I have always adored animals, and [that] is probably one of the reasons I work where I do,” says Potts.
An Academic Encouragement
Potts graduated in 2009 with a degree in Psychology, Sociology and Business. During her time at Bethel, she realized that her dream to become a marine mammal trainer could become a reality. With Psychology Professor Stephanie Carlson, Ph.D.’s help, Potts signed up for classes related to animal training and psychology. Dr. Carlson even set up numerous independent studies for Potts.
Getting Her Flippers Wet
Immediately after college, Potts landed an internship with Sea Life Park in Hawaii Kai, Hawaii.
“I felt truly blessed to be offered a job right out of college, especially with the way the economy is failing so many of my friends and family members right now,” Potts says.
After the five-month internship, Sea Life Park offered Potts a full-time position as apprentice trainer. She is in charge of the safety and health of the animals, as well as training them to perform in shows for the visitors. Potts also oversees the sea lion interaction time, a park feature where guests can swim and interact with the sea lions.
“I think one of the best things about my job is seeing people's faces light up when they see our dolphins flip, or when they touch and swim with our sea lions,” says Potts. “It’s the same love and joy that I felt many years ago as a child.”
"Mahalo" or Thank You
Potts is very appreciative of her time at Bethel. She credits a lot of her ambition and success in her career field to the experiences and friends she made while at Bethel.
“If it weren’t for [Dr. Carlson], I really don't know if I would beout here today,” she says. And as for living in Hawaii, Potts says it is, “about as close to heaven as we can get here on earth!” The beaches, weather and mountains provide entertainment for Potts’ adventurous spirit. On her days off, she can often be found hiking or swimming on the island.