Chemistry and biology just "clicked" for Century senior Jack King.
King, a lineman on both sides of the ball for the Knights' football team, put that knowledge to the test this summer as a member of the Student Summer Program at the National Aquarium in Baltimore's Inner Harbor, an experience that exposed him to different biological studies while working in multiple galleries and exhibits.
The program is designed to give high school students a unique opportunity to volunteer at the National Aquarium and spend a summer sharing the Aquarium's mission, according to the Aquarium's website.
"We took a couple trips down to Florida and talked to a few guys who were stationed down in the [Florida] Keys and I thought it'd be something really cool to get in to," King said. "I took my biology course junior year and was really good at it, loved the course. They basically picked you from there. I did an interview presentation for five minutes and they filtered it out through there."
The National Aquarium is the one of the largest tourist attractions in Maryland and their mission is to inspire the conservation of the world's aquatic treasures, according to the Aquarium's website. Close to 20,000 living animals from more than 700 species of fish, birds, amphibians, reptiles, and mammals reside in multiple habitats spread throughout the vicinity.
There are five levels within the Aquarium's Pier 3 Pavilion and each floor has a specific theme. The Pier 4 Pavilion is a smaller building that is home to the Aquarium's seven Atlantic bottlenose dolphins and a temporary jellyfish exhibit. The glass pavilion houses the Animal Planet Australia exhibit, which is structured like a walk-in aviary.
Shifts were flexible for every volunteer, King said, as long as they completed 100 hours by the course's conclusion. Some volunteers worked two half-days a week or one full day a week, or more, depending on how they wanted to garner those necessary hours.
King applied to renew his certification year-round, and therefore will remain on the aquarium's payroll.
King was one of about 180 other student volunteers who worked in multiple galleries interacting with visitors and educating them about each exhibit. Volunteers would work at a station for about an hour and then rotate.
"A lot of it was just the people that were there," King said. "They were amazing to work with. Even though you didn't get to work a lot with the animals, I still learned so much about biology in just that aspect. The awesome thing I liked about it was I was set on marine biology, but it also exposed me to ornithology."
King said he has interest in Coastal Carolina University's marine science program, including other Carolina-based schools with similar areas of study. His plan is to study Marine Biology and pursue a Master's Degree in Microbiology.
He recently finished his summer program at the Aquarium, but it was not the only thing that has kept him occupied this summer.
"This," he said with a laugh as he gestured toward Century's football practice field. "A lot of lifting, a lot of personal training. I had a personal trainer this year with taking a lot of morning shifts. We had lifting in the morning so I would end up getting a trainer and going to [the gym] to work there on my own. I attended a few nutritional seminars because I hadn't always been the best at eating. I see pizza, I eat it.
"A lot of it has just been, I love playing football but I've been setting myself up to play rugby because that's kind of what I want focus on in college. It's still a commitment, it's still a sport but it's not a football commitment. I love football as a sport but I love rugby."