The Answer to Your Golden Question

As many other college seniors approached their graduation date, I am sure that I was not alone in being pegged with the golden question, "so what are your plans after graduation?" At dinner with your friends, at the dinner table on Easter, in the hallway from your incredibly accredited professors, and the list goes on...

However, I also know that I am not alone in the fact that you could be the most relaxed, go-with-the-flow person and STILL feel some sort of pressure from your family and peers, eager to hear about the next step. This is where I am at. 

Here I was a few weeks ago, a senior at the University of North Carolina Wilmington graduating with a B.S. in Environmental Science with a concentration in Biology, I have been active in many student organizations, president of one, held many hours of internship and volunteer experience, held various types of jobs, awarded scholarships and grants, networked eagerly throughout the community, have great connections with my professors and advisors, and yet...I haven't a clue what the next step is. My peers perceive me as the one that has it "all figured out." I'm the one people come to for school advice, for extra eyes on resumes and applications, for recommendations about what next step take in THEIR lives...So I should have it all figured out right?

What is "having it all figured out", anyways? What makes you the one who has it? The person who graduates college, gets a job, gets married, has children, maybe a dog...and so the story continues? To be fair, there is nothing wrong with this traditional way of life; I am just curious as to how doing something different than that somehow makes you unsuccessful? What do you define as success? And what do you define as failure? It's quite interesting to me what our society has taught us about those two ideas.

Anyways...My life has been shaped and molded by the Caribbean Islands. When I was 17, I was given the unique opportunity to live and learn on a sailboat, scuba diving and sailing the Leeward Islands with a company called Broadreach. This experience might be of an ordinary one to some, but not for me. Coming from a big city, not really ever having the extra funds to ever go to summer camp, and battling depression throughout my teens-this experience single-handedly changed my life. And I owe it all to the Broadreach Foundation.

Living at sea changes you. Your schedule, dictated by the wind and weather, your water dictated by your usage, your lifestyle dictated by the pure simplicity of nature...It resonated with me, and pushed me to fulfill my passion of preserving the very life that sustains us, the ocean. This passion was fostered so deeply that I took every opportunity that came my way through my time at university. Everything I pursued, created, devoted my energy to, was for the ocean. So when I look at my accomplishments, of course I am proud, but I do not see them as mere resume builders, I see them as stepping stones to greater accomplishments. I see them as things I experienced-some good and some bad, but all teaching me something. 

So I sit here and I am proud to announce the launch of Operation Umi. I do not have a job lined up, I do not have a home waiting for me, but I have a passion. And that is to protect our worlds oceans. And this platform may not be forever, but my mission is. In addition to creating this traveling art series, I am also happy to announce that I will be teaching marine science in the Bahamas in July/August. The islands that were my playground are now someone else's and I have the immense pleasure of influencing theirs. This is an unconventional way to live as society would see it. And maybe this isn't how the rest of my life is going to play out, but right now it feels good and it feels right. 

And ya gotta do what feels right, ya? Thanks for being here, and go check out our new website!!!

Arisa Yoon, Founder & Executive Director 



Arisa Yoon