Annabelle Constance

Annabelle Constance

BSc Environmental Science

On the occasion of Aldabra’s 30th Anniversary in 2012, I was awarded the David Stoddart scholarship by Seychelles Islands Foundation, in honour of one of the founding fathers of Aldabra’s protection, Professor David Stoddart, to undertake a BSc Programme at the University of Seychelles. I felt very privileged to be given the chance to obtain a University education and will remain forever grateful to SIF for having given me this opportunity.

I chose to pursue a three year degree in Environmental Science, a fully-developed, home-based, internationally recognised degree which integrates a small state perspective into an existing Environmental degree curricular. My first year at UniSey passed very quickly and I had to adapt to the demands of studying for an undergraduate degree which included, most importantly, learning to think outside the box. By the end of the second year, I had the chance to make contacts with many stakeholders in the environmental field in Seychelles. As part of a project arranged by the Department of Environment, I travelled to Recif Island to help map the soil types in this nature reserve. I later visited Saint Anne Island and participated in a bird survey with the Island Conservation Society. During the holidays, I completed an exciting internship on Denis Island, mapping the vegetation types in an area identified for conservation. I also became a qualified PADI Advanced Open Water Diver and learned to identify and survey fish species during a one month training programme with Global Vision International (GVI) Seychelles, a skill I always wanted to gain and which will allow me to continue to marvel at the underwater world of Seychelles.

The highlight for my final year at university was the undertaking of my BSc thesis. I worked closely with SIF for this dissertation, notably with Dr Nancy Bunbury who helped me develop my research idea. My research was based on understanding the life-history strategies of the iconic Coco de Mer with regards to leaf growth rates of the species. I used an extensive dataset that has been collected by SIF since 2009 on 75 Coco de Mer trees in Fond Pepper. After submitting my dissertation in January 2015, I eagerly resumed working for SIF as a Project Officer.

Thereafter, I was excited to learn that I had graduated with a first-class honours degree in Environmental Science. The first-class degree represents three years of hard work, commitment and dedication. This honour is also a testament to a dynamic team at UniSey who work hard to ensure that students have the proper framework to be able to strive to achieve excellence in their given field of endeavour. And these, of course, are the people who really need to be honoured. I believe that the nature of the education that students in small states receive should prove to be the key factor in their future development, so that our style of teaching should be modelled on what is appropriate in small states. I would therefore like to thank UniSey for having provided me with the opportunity to benefit from a higher education experience of learning that is very relevant to my daily and real-life encounters and concerns.

I would like to dedicate this achievement to my family and my sponsor, Seychelles Islands Foundation, who gave me the greatest help, both academically and personally.

Currently, I am enrolled at the University of Zurich studying for an MSc in Environmental Science. The course duration is from September 2015 to January 2017. I look forward to applying the skills I am learning to the further conservation of environmental resources in my home country.