Born in Cooper City, Florida, I have had a passion for science, nature, and the environment since I was a child. I grew up watching the Discovery Channel and Animal Planet, and give credit to shows like “Wild Discovery,“ “Blue Planet,” and “Walking with Dinosaurs” for instilling in me an intense appreciation for nature. As I grew older, I began to study biology and soon became hooked.
As I studied marine affairs at UM from 2008 to 2012, I incorporated my love of science with my intense desire to help others. I was active in many student groups, including the student newspaper and a philanthropic organization, Random Acts of Kindness. I also honed my desire to express myself through artwork and writing, and have used science as a subject for many of my articles and paintings. My experience in nonprofit work landed me a position on the constituency board for the Center for Autism and Related Disabilities at UM.
After graduating with my Bachelors of Arts, I started a blog called “The Written Blit” that showcases my artwork, my experiences, and my writings. I compiled my experiences and blog posts into my first book, “From the Blogosphere: Philosophy from My College Years.” A blend of introspective poems and philosophical essays, the book was my first epiphany. It is a coming-of-age piece that follows me as I try to make sense of myself and the world around me.
From May to December 2012, I worked for RSMAS’s Graduate Studies Office, which was my first true experience at RSMAS. I scanned, sorted, and copied files from the comfort of my own desk. As I did, I quickly bonded with my colleagues and supervisors. I fondly remember those days with the GSO team who profoundly enriched my life with their extraordinary work ethic, their interesting stories, and hilarious witticisms.
In August 2012, I lead RSMAS’ Fall orientation. This was a valuable experience that allowed me to connect with incoming graduate students. Because I was a new graduate student myself, I was able to establish a niche in the RSMAS community. Because I had spent my undergraduate period at the U, I was also able to give the incoming students advice about life in Miami.
Fall semester was a blur because I heavily invested myself in University activities. While I attended MPS events and worked for GSO, I actively participated in the Jewish community (such as Hillel and the Judaic Studies Center). At the same time, I pushed my writing to new levels through “The Written Blit.”
In December 2012, I traveled to Israel for the first time. When I returned in January 2013, I wrote and self-published my second book. “Birthright 2012: A Voyage into the Heart and Soul of Israel” follows my physical and spiritual journey in the Land of Milk and Honey. It is my second epiphany, the culmination of my search for identity. “Birthright 2012” combines personal anecdotes with science, history, and poetry, yet reads like a journal.
As I begin my second semester at RSMAS, I continuously strive to help others find themselves in our increasingly complicated world. I firmly believe that individuals have the power to change their circumstances for the better. I will use my experiences and my MPS degree to make that belief a concrete reality.
By: Andrew Biltman, MPS in Marine Conservation Alumnus