Saving the Bay

A headshot of Mikayla Barnwell
Mikayla Barnwell '18

Mikayla Barnwell, RWU Class of 2018

Major:  Marine Biology
Minor:  Mathematics

Each semester, RWU faculty and students go beyond the classroom to work within the community and help provide solutions to local and global issues. When marine biology major Mikayla Barnwell '18 transferred to RWU, she found plentiful opportunities to get involved in her field of interest.

"With such an easy transfer process, transitioning to Roger Williams was everything I could have hoped for and more. I fell in love with the town of Bristol, embraced the small community atmosphere, joined the rowing team, and was even able to spend a semester studying abroad in Bermuda," she said. 

Barnwell '18 brought her learning outside the classroom by working with Save The Bay, a nonprofit dedicated to protecting and improving the health of Narragansett Bay.

As a volunteer management intern, Barnwell planned and facilitated the organization’s multiple shoreline cleanups at various locations. She also tapped into her scientific skillset while working with aquatic exhibits and educating the public on life in the local waters at Save The Bay’s Exploration Center & Aquarium in Newport.

“As a marine biology student, it’s very important to me to help educate the community on their surrounding environment, and hopefully influence their decisions to make more environmentally-aware choices."

Barnwell took on this leadership role as one of seven Hassenfeld Student Leadership Fellows, who are supported through a $500,000 gift from Hassenfeld Family Initiatives LLC.

“With this fellowship, I want to be able to share my ideas with others and learn from what they have to offer. Immersing myself in community issues gives me a chance to better understand the people around me, as well as to learn how to take the proper steps when contributing as an active citizen.”

Building upon all these experiences, Barnwell continued to connect her passion for creating change within communities to her research after she left RWU. She was awarded a prestigious research internship with Roatan Institute of Marine Sciences, where she linked her own coral reef lab and field research to conservation efforts. She also worked on coral restoration for The Nature Conservatory in St. Croix. 

In Fall 2021, she will begin her Masters of Science in Tropical Conservation Biology and Environmental Science at the University of Hawaii at Hilo.