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How do you thank someone who has changed your life?

Mel and Delilah

*This is the third part of a three-part blog series. You can read the first part of the blog here and the second part of the blog here.*

Ever wondered the best way to thank someone for changing your life? Write a blog about them of course! Flash back to spring of 2019 and the year was just not going my way. I was feeling like no matter how hard I tried to make progress in life, there was always hurdle after hurdle.

When I was accepted and I decided to do the internship at WDC, I was not only trying to progress professionally, but to get my life on a track that I was excited about. I arrived at the WDC office in July with a car full of all of my belongings, not much of a plan, but a gut feeling that this was exactly where I needed to be.

By the time I drove away from the WDC office just a couple of short months later, I left with a passion for marine policy, a new career path, and clear plan on my next steps. For all of that, I am truly grateful for Regina.

I remember the first time I had a conversation with Regina - I was both nervous and excited to pick her brain. We were at an outreach event and between bursts of visitors to our table, I started to test the waters and ask her a couple of questions about her work in policy. I tried to contain how fascinated I was by her work, but lucky for me, she was super willing to answer any and all of my questions. Besides just the information, we even ended up diving deeper and discussing animal welfare, the emotional toll that working in conservation takes, and we even recalled some professors who impacted us. I came home from the event reliving our conversation and hoping I would get at least one more opportunity to pick her brain and hear her stories.

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The other staff were just trying to take a picture of the table, but how cool that we captured this special moment?

Little did I know, that would happen the very next day! Regina came to me with documents to help me learn more about policy. I diligently read them and came up with a list of questions. I remember whispering to Sabrina and asking if it would be alright to go to Regina’s office to ask them. (She giggled and said yes.) I peeked my head into Regina’s office and mentioned my questions. She smiled, cleared off the chair next to her desk, and offered me a seat and her ear.

This little meeting was the beginning of an incredibly meaningful opportunity that Regina gave me. From that point on, she came in each day and had a list of new policy tasks she needed help with and she gave me the opportunity to get my feet wet. My timid approaches to her office were always met with warmth and a welcoming of my thoughts and questions on whatever she had me working on. In no time, I was taking my seat beside her desk regularly, inviting her dog Menace onto my lap while we worked. We also talked about our families, discovered our similar sense of humor, and sometimes got distracted by office spiders. She trusted me with tasks that furthered my experience in the field, always made time to guide me, and every day she showed me the kind of professional that I hope to become.

Her belief in me gave me the confidence to reach for bigger things and the fact that Regina believed in me and openly welcomed me into her policy world is what turned my year around.

Mel and Regina

Regina –Your friendship and mentorship have changed the course of my life and I can’t explain how grateful I am. Thank you for showing me what I’m capable of and pushing me to do things that I was nervous to try at first. I’m so honored that you believe in me and I only hope to make you proud with my next steps forward.

Thank you! A million times thank you!

Mel

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