At the beginning of her sophomore year, Alex Ulmke had no idea what to major in. She had grown up visiting her grandparents’ house on a Florida inlet with manatees swimming by, and she wanted to become a marine biologist to save them. During her freshman year at UW, she took study breaks to watch documentaries about whales. After taking a course from a UW professor who was researching whales and the Endangered Species Act, she figured out she could tailor her UW education to her fascination with marine mammal conservation. In her words:
“In the fall of my sophomore year, I was doing my usual close-your-eyes-and-point to pick classes. I landed on an Intro to Law, Societies, and Justice class (LSJ 200). That sparked it all for me, with the over-arching question in the class, “Can law save the whales?” The class explored law as a social mechanism in the broadest sense and applied it to Southern Resident Killer Whales in our area.
I love everything about whales; I cannot fathom that something can be so large and so smart, yet we know so little about them. Once I realized that this was my niche, I started taking classes that I could tailor towards this subject. Teachers are open to students’ passions and will often allow you to explore the avenue you want.”