WINTERVILLE, NC (WITN) Fresh off an all-expenses-paid trip to Hawaii, Pitt Community College student Ivanya Johnson was beaming as she described swimming with sharks during filming for an upcoming television show.
The 18-year-old Snow Hill resident is pursuing her life’s goal to study marine biology and make a career of shark preservation, and she couldn’t have been happier discussing the sandbar, Galapagos, oceanic blacktip and scalloped hammerhead sharks that made their acquaintance.
“It was much better than I expected, getting so close to sharks and learning more about them, including four species I had never seen before,” she said.
Johnson, who’s taking her second organic chemistry class at PCC in addition to coursework at Greene Early College High School, traveled to Hawaii with her mother in mid-January.
The trip came a little more than a month after learning she’d won Xploration Station’s 2019 #StudentExplorer competition.
In Oahu, Johnson joined conservationist Philippe Cousteau Jr. and OneOcean Diving on a pair of free dives with sharks. Camera crews captured the adventure for an episode of Xploration Awesome Planet to air on Fox this spring.
“That was fun, seeing how the filming takes place,” Johnson said. “I enjoyed meeting the conservationists and talking with them about why they got into conservation, what motivates them, and getting to know them more personally.”
Johnson says her Hawaii adventure is motivation to continue pushing toward her dream career, which includes starting either a business or non-profit organization to encourage minorities to consider marine biology careers.