Graduate Liberal Studies Program

Student Profile - Bonnie Monteleone

Bonnie Monteleone

Bonnie (with a "find" from one of her voyages)

I came to Wilmington the fall of 2004 leaving the landlocked foothills of NY to live near the ocean and my college-bound children. What I didn't foresee was my becoming a Master's student studying plastic pollution in the ocean. In 2005 I started working in the Chemistry Department at UNCW. Impressed by the extensive research our students and faculty do but receive little press, I decided to go back to school to get my masters to supplement my undergraduate degree in Communications, Concentration in Journalism so I could write articles about chemistry research. Little did I know, the Graduate Liberal Studies would lead me down the path of doing my own research taking me nearly 10,000 nautical miles in three different oceans.

I selected UNC Wilmington's Graduate Liberal Studies Program because of the positive feedback I heard from fellow UNCW employees in the program. What I needed was a program that would get me writing again especially about current events with an emphasis on the trivium and the quadrivium (literature, languages, philosophy, history, mathematics, and science.) As I sat in Dr. Jenny Yates class I knew I was in the right program. Students from many different undergraduate disciplines shared their tools of examination and analysis from their respective fields and applied them to class discussions. No other discipline could provide this gyroscope of perspectives - most befitting for someone interested in journalist writing.

In the GLS course Scientific Writing, taught by Dr. Diane Melroy, my passion for research was seeded. An assigned reading titled, Plastic Ocean, by Susan Casey cultivated my interest in learning more about plastic in the marine environment and the negative impacts it has on the biota. Learning about the accumulation of plastic in the North Pacific subtropical gyre inspired me to want to go there personally as well as pursue the answer to the question, "If plastic is accumulating in the North Pacific, is it in the North Atlantic?" My GLS education has fostered my participation in four voyages - two in the N. Atlantic, one in the N. Pacific, and most recently sailing across the South Atlanta from Brazil to South Africa. Throughout this enormous undertaking, I have been grateful for the travel scholarships I've been awarded through the university. I have given numerous talks, nationally and internationally, and have had the privilege to work with students of all ages.

What I've learned most through the GLS program is that it is not so much what discipline you decide to pursue. It's more important to connect what you are passionate about in conjunction with your education. The combination can take you beyond your expectations.

GLS Webmaster -- Note: Bonnie's activity has been considerable, consisting of voyages (as mentioned above), articles, presentations, and awards. Please check out the timeline of her activities.

Last Update: November 23, 2011