For Lutece Moriniere, being able to see the big picture is critical to understanding the consequences of human action. Graduating with her bachelors degree in the spring of 2020, this senior is continuing her education as she aims to complete her masters degree the following fall. It may seem unusual that an Environmental Studies student with a passion for marine studies would pursue a masters degree in Social Justice and Community Organizing, but to Lutece, the connection between these two fields of study are critical to understanding wider impacts. It is the pursuit of this that guided Lutece Moriniere’s senior project.
Originally from Madagascar, Lutece grew up in Tucson, Arizona. Until she was nine years old, her family made frequent trips between the United States and Madagascar. Upon moving to the United States permanently, Lutece’s family made home in Tucson. Eventually finding her way just three hours north, Lutece found Prescott College after graduating high school. With a passion for marine studies, she was drawn in by Prescott College’s Kino Bay Center in Mexico and the promise of hands-on field experience. Within her first semester, Lutece had the opportunity to dive right in, and after swimming with a colony of sea lions, she was hooked.
In Lutece’s time at Prescott College, it was always the hands-on field experience that stood out. When asked to reflect on her time in the Environmental Studies program she recalled one particular environmental theory class. She said it had caught her attention because unlike many of her other classes, this one discussed what the future of the environment would look like. In her words, these were the classes that no other school offered. Knowing that this education was valuable, Lutece saw a great opportunity in joining the accelerated masters program. Having a background in marine studies, she was first drawn to the Environmental Studies masters program. However, halfway through her time as an undergraduate, she discovered the Social Justice and Community Organizing program. After considering options, Lutece ultimately realized her passion for marine studies had ties into justice issues, and it seemed like a natural fit for her transition.
Now, nearing the end of her undergraduate program, Lutece has had the opportunity to widen her impact on the world with a final senior capstone. Just as she had begun her career at Prescott College, she found herself back in the sea surrounded by lionfish; this time conducting research. Based out of Belize, Lutece volunteered with Blue Venture, a conservation organization working to develop community-owned solutions. The goal was to understand if and how climate change was affecting the increase of the invasive populations of lionfish in Corozal Bay, Belize. During her stay in Belize, Lutece split her time between two locations: Sarteneja and Bacalar. In Sarteneja, Lutece was immersed in the local culture and participated in community outreach events. Her research with Blue Venture happened back in Bacalar, where she stayed at the marine research camp collecting critical marine data through daily scuba dives. All of the research and community outreach that she participated in sought to contribute to a deeper understanding of the health status of the native fish population as well as give some insight into population management strategies for the invasive lionfish.
When asked about her time in Belize, Lutece noted that the most challenging aspect was the lack of technology for the ongoing research. However, despite this, she can see herself returning one day to volunteer again with Blue Venture in order to learn more about the surrounding waters. If there was one thing that Lutece wishes people would take away from her project, it is that understanding the interconnections between each element enables one to see the ecosystem consequences. Going forward in her studies, Lutece will continue herself, to look at these deeper connections. In her masters program she envisions a thesis that relates her love for marine studies with social justice by analyzing how sea-level rise and climate change will affect communities. In her view, the reality is that there will be more natural and manmade disasters that will impact both environments and communities, leading to an increased need for more holistic approaches to mitigation strategies.