Women Divers Hall of Fame & NAUI Leadership Grant Report

I am thankful to have had the opportunity from Women Divers Hall of Fame (WDHOF) and NAUI to complete my NAUI Divemaster here in Northern California. I started the program with Pro Scuba Dive Center, Scotts Valley, California, in early February 2018 and completed in December. I first finished a few cold-water checkouts (water is cold here in California — 54 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit). Then, I worked as a teaching assistant for several months in diving classes in both confined water and open water. Despite the distance from the CW/OW site to my dorm (about a 1- to 2-hour drive each way), I enjoy diving and teaching in Northern California’s cold water.

The combination of cold water, rough surf, low visibility, high boat traffic, and kelp environment makes diving and teaching diving as a divemaster more challenging. However, this environment also made me a stronger candidate. I had to maintain good control of the students at all times, conducting pre/post dive briefings in front of a large group of 8 to 10 students, and monitoring critical safety-related skills in open water. The rigorous six-month program with Pro Scuba Dive Center made me a confident dive leader and is indeed above and beyond what I would have expected from a divemaster training program.

It was also an enriching experience to leverage the “academic freedom” that is unique in the NAUI programs to teach many topics above the minimum standard. This teaching experience in diving also makes me a better teacher in the academic classroom as an instructor for aerospace classes. Last but not least, as a female teaching-staff member, it was an inspiring experience to let many of my female students in the diving class see that women are capable of becoming dive leaders. Finally, I have passed on the WDHOF scholarship program information within the dive shop and encouraged several women students to apply.

I would like to give special thanks to Dr. Shirley Pomponi, who helped with so many administrative aspects of the scholarship usage, and the flexibility in accommodating my nine-month internship schedule at German Space Center during my divemaster training. I would also like to thank all the instructors and fellow teaching assistants at Pro Scuba Dive Center for their help. I could not have completed this training simultaneously during my Ph.D. defense without their support.