Alumni Spotlight: Zara Elle Cornaby


My absolute dream job is to become a marine biologist. I am currently a junior in high school and have always had a deep love for the ocean. The mystery, adventure, and desire to discover drives me to do everything humanly possible in order to have a job in the sea.

Why did you choose this program?

My mother has been looking into it for years. Since I have always loved marine biology, this program seemed to align most with what we were looking for in a program. The team seemed friendly, the location was beautiful, and the program had so many options to choose from. I don’t think we could have found a better program to pick.

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

I had the option of writing why I wanted to go to Action Quest in order to receive a percentage off of the fee to go on the program. Overall, the planning and execution were very organized and we were helped and contacted often to keep us in the know of what was going on. I felt at ease throughout the whole process.

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

Do everything possible thing that is available to you. We had the opportunity to hike to the top of a mountain, over half of the people didn’t do it and just stayed on the boats to sleep more. That hike was one of the most incredible parts of the trip, and I genuinely am not a big fan of hiking. By saying yes to every opportunity, you will feel the reward and that you really maximized your experience. Also bond with the people on your boat. The people are what make the experience so open yourself up to the possibility of new friendships.

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

You wake up resting on the ocean. Fun music is playing, everyone is climbing out of their sleeping sacks, and you begin the chores for the day. But they aren’t really chores because you are singing and laughing with your crewmates the whole time. You eat breakfast, laugh some more and maybe play a round or two of cards. You head to your dive site, take photos, see new species, adventure around. That day you might be headed to land, shopping, and interacting with other people on the other boats. Or possibly you have a beach dinner with the whole fleet. Either way, you go full tilt until it gets dark or starts to rain. But you don’t really care, so you go outside and dance in the rain, sing some more. Maybe you share some personal information, maybe you talk about nothing at all. The night ends with stargazing and talking. Slowly everyone goes to bed, excited to repeat it all over again the next day.

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 had never been to a sleepaway camp and I really wanted to be with a good group of people. I overcame it by allowing myself to believe that everything would be fantastic, and it was. I found that the experience on the boat was one of the best in my entire life. I think back to it often, missing those people, missing sleeping far from home on a boat. It truly was incredible.

How is the food?

Most of it is pretty good for being on a boat most of the time. You have chips and snacks, food such as ramen and pasta, plus there are other options for those with dietary restrictions. You have opportunities to go onshore and also grab lunch or snacks, but those don’t occur every day. Overall, the food is pretty decent.