We Are UNCW Telling our story, one Seahawk at a time.

Andie Cuiffo

February 8, 2016

Although it may sound like a tropical vacation, there is much more than fun to UNCW junior Andie Cuiffo’s upcoming adventure in Fiji. She will spend much of her time attending classes in geology and marine science at the University of the South Pacific, while also participating in ocean and coastal research.

In choosing to take advantage of the many opportunities to study abroad, Cuiffo embodies UNCW’s goal of expanding its global reach, as well as a personal passion for helping protect the ocean and shoreline. She hopes to study waves and ocean conditions in the Pacific Ocean as she works toward completing her major in oceanography, with a minor in art.

The Long Island native is an officer in the UNCW chapter of the Surfrider Foundation, helping run frequent beach cleanups. An entrepreneurial spirit and love of art also led her to start her own handmade-jewelry business, South Shore Seaglass Co. She considers the jewelry business, which uses some recycled and found materials, “as a way to start the conversation” about shoreline protection and the goal of a plastic-free ocean.

This will not be her first trip abroad. Cuiffo recently returned from a brief trip to Pangandaran, Indonesia, on West Java, with the International Surf Lifesaving Association (ISLA). The group and its counterpart, Lifeguards Without Borders, work to help reduce drownings by teaching lifesaving techniques and first-aid. She has been an ocean lifeguard for three years and was one of 10 participants chosen for the ISLA trip in early January.

No matter their major, Cuiffo encourages fellow students to look into overseas opportunities and not to automatically assume they can’t afford to study abroad. “They should focus on what they are interested in and do their research,” she said. “It is possible to do it.”

Photos: Courtesy Andie Cuiffo

-- Tricia Vance