Steven Paine ’15, Biology

Published on Friday, November 6th, 2015

Steven Paine elephantSteven Paine ’15 dreamed of becoming a whale watch naturalist in Hawaii; in the fall of 2015, his aspiration will come true.

The Becker College biology program alumnus is starting his dream job on the sunny island of Maui, and he credits Becker with helping him realize his goal. “My professors helped me get ready for the real world, and motivated me to work hard and passionately,” Paine said. “They used their personal time to help me prepare for a conference I presented during my senior year and to connect with people who guided me in my professional success.”

Paine, who hails from Lynnfield, Mass., has always had an interest in the ocean and animals. He entered into the biology program at Becker and used electives to focus on marine biology. After searching for months for his ideal internship, he found an ad for a research and education internship at Cape Ann Whale Watch in Gloucester, Mass. “It was a perfect fit for me,” he said. “From day one on the boat I was head over heels in love. I would even go into work on my days off!”

In 2014, Paine presented research he had conducted as part of that internship and senior seminar on the reactions of passengers on whale watch trips at the American Cetacean Society Conference, “Tuned into Whales: Conservation, Research and Education,” in Newport Beach, Calif. His presentation was titled, “Whale Watch Passengers: Before, During, and After the Trip: Expectation, Reactions, Behavior Change?” He hypothesized that education would result in conservation behavior change, and his results proved he was correct. His data showed that many new passengers with Cape Ann Whale Watch subsequently used a seafood guide to choose more sustainable seafood options.

After graduation, Paine was hired by Living Classrooms Foundation as a shipboard whales and estuary educator. He worked full-time on a 104-foot schooner named Lady Maryland, out of Baltimore, Maryland. “I spend the summer living and working on the ship,” Paine said. “I taught students from Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Talented Youth program about whales and dolphins. We sailed up the Chesapeake Bay, by the New Jersey coast, past Manhattan, and into Long Island Sound before spending the rest of the summer sailing around New England from port to port. It was one of the most incredible experiences of my life.”

When he returned home, Paine went back to Cape Ann Whale Watch short-term to help train new interns and volunteer on the boat during whale watch trips. As of November, he’ll be living on Maui and working for the Pacific Whale Foundation to educate passengers on their whale watch boats as well as run snorkeling trips.

Though the position in Hawaii is one he has coveted for a long time, he is already looking toward his next adventure. “I want to work in Maui and Massachusetts to educate people about whales for a few years before I go to graduate school,” he said. “I want to go to either James Cook University in Australia for Marine Biology and Ecology, or Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand for Marine Conservation. Hopefully, in the next five years or so, I’ll be heading out to the South Pacific!”

Paine wants to pass on this advice: As impossible as pipe dreams may seem, no one should give up on them. “I would like to tell Becker students to chase their dreams,” Paine said. “Fight and run for them like nothing else exists. No matter how crazy your dreams may seem, you have no idea how happy you will be if all your dreams come true.”