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Balancing act

Marine Institute graduate juggles home, work and continuing education

special feature: Class of 2020

Part of a special feature celebrating and recognizing the Class of 2020 at Memorial.


By Moira Baird

As a graduate student with a day job, travel commitments and parenting responsibilities, Kelley Santos learned to complete her course work whenever she could.

That meant finding time between swimming lessons, basketball games and family camping trips.

The spring graduate has finished her master of marine studies in fisheries resource management degree, an online course-based program offered at the Marine Institute’s School of Fisheries.

‘Study from anywhere’

“I plugged away at it for the better part of three years. One summer I completed courses while we were camping and had to sit in the hotspot at Terra Nova to submit all of my course material. You can study from anywhere,” she said.

“At the same time, you’ve got to be able to carve out your downtime, too. I took a summer off and the rest of the time I worked at it as I could.”

Originally from Sydney, N.S., she has called Pouch Cove home for more than a decade, along with her husband Mark and teenagers, Isaiah and Anna.

“I think maybe at a later stage of life you appreciate the significance of the accomplishment a bit more.” — Kelley Santos

Ms. Santos worked as a research grants and contracts officer at both Memorial and the Marine Institute before taking a new position last summer with the Atlantic regional association of the Canadian Integrated Ocean Observing System (CIOOS).

Diverse program

Ms. Santos was ecstatic when she received the letter confirming completion of her graduate degree.

Kelley Santos, MI masters graduate 2020
Kelley Santos completed a master’s in marine studies degree at the Marine Institute.
Photo: Danielle Percy

“I think maybe at a later stage of life you appreciate the significance of the accomplishment a bit more because you’re juggling so many different things,” she said.

She opted for a master of marine studies because she found many of the courses – fisheries policy, international fisheries development and ecology – relevant to her work at the institute.

Support network

Her secret to juggling the demands of home, work and continuing education is support from all quarters.

“I think I’m really lucky. My family’s really supportive. Management and all of my co-workers at MI are hugely supportive,” she said.

“I have always felt tremendously supported in choosing to pursue my studies, whether it’s a little bit of needed time off or just needing to bounce some ideas off somebody.”

Ms. Santos is also a parent representative on Easter Seals Newfoundland and Labrador’s board of directors. Her daughter was the organization’s 2018 youth ambassador.

“It’s a really special organization for us and hugely supportive of Anna and of us – they’ve provided her with so many opportunities to try new things to help her develop her skills and abilities.”

New opportunity

Last June, she took on a new role as a user engagement specialist for CIOOS Atlantic. It required extensive travel to build a national online platform to manage and share the oceanographic data contributed and used by partners in academia, industry and government.

“Data is very difficult and expensive to collect – particularly ocean data. Rather than collect it, use it and shelve it, this system will make data available over the long term so everybody has access to it and can benefit from it,” said Ms. Santos, who works through the Marine Institute’s Centre for Applied Ocean Technology

“Response has been very positive over the past year and we’ve engaged with organizations from a wide range of sectors who are interested in working with us to make their data available or discover data in a particular area to enhance their operations.”


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