Alumni Spotlight: Melissa LeDonne


Melissa is a senior in high school, focusing on what she would like to do in college -- possibly marine biology. She loves going to the beach, hanging out with friends, and trying new things.

Why did you choose this program?

I chose ActionQuest because I wanted to learn more about the ocean and am considering a career in marine biology.

Out of all the programs I have researched, it seemed like the best fit -- the places I would be visiting were beautiful, the activities looked awesome, and on top of all that, it was something new.

I always like to try new things, especially when the sea is involved. Also, a friend of mine had gone the year before and said how amazing it was so I decided to take his advice and go with him the next summer.

What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

I heard about ActionQuest from a friend and researched it with my parents.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

Definitely bring a waterproof camera. The British Virgin Islands are beautiful, as well as the memories that you will make. I wish I had brought a GoPro to document all the fun adventures my shipmates and I had.

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

An average day on our sailboat began with my shipmates and I waking up to one of the few songs on the boat's CD track.

We would complete our chores before, during, or after breakfast and then get ready for the day. In the morning, we would have a planned scuba diving lesson or a fun activity such as watersports. Then we would have lunch and another activity in the afternoon.

As the day was ending, we would have dinner, family style, and then sit on the bow of the boat and reflect on our favorite things about the day. At the end of every week, ActionQuest put on a dance at a local outdoor restaurant where we could meet up with our friends from the other boats.

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

I believe my biggest fear was getting homesick and not be able to enjoy my time in the BVIs and with my new friends. The truth is, once I got used to everything and everybody, the trip became much more enjoyable for me. Plus, every few days we got to use our phones to call home and speak to our parents. That helped me a lot.

What is your favorite memory from your time abroad?

One of my favorite memories was playing on a boom swing. A boom swing is basically the boom of the boat shifted so that the part that would normally be facing the stern is facing out towards the water. At the end of the boom, a rope with a knot would be attached.

On this particular day, my shipmates and I were swimming in the ocean near our boat when it started to rain. It down-poured. But another boat group didn't seem to mind the rain -- they continued swinging and jumping into the water on their boom swing.

A few of us really wanted to try it, as we hadn't made one on our boat yet, so one of our staff members took us over in the dinghy. Despite all the rain, I had the best time. I would encourage prospective travelers to try things that are new to them, just like how I tried the boom swing for the very first time.