By Kylie Stamper
Homecoming week at Southwestern College is packed full of activities and events for students and alumni. One of the activities this week was the official ribbon cutting ceremony for the new aquaria in Beech Science Center.
The mastermind behind the project is Julie Fuquay, 2015 graduate. Fuquay used the project as her senior Leadership project for the Leadership Studies program. She said, “I just really didn’t want to leave Southwestern without new aquaria because when I got here as a freshman there were five aquaria and by the time I was a junior, they didn’t work anymore and were in complete disrepair.”
The original tanks had problems with filters, leaks, and technical issues. Pat Ross, professor of Biology, stated during the ceremony, “Over the years the aquariums became a landmark for the college, a place for scientific observation and a reflection for our students. But ultimately, what had become one of the most visited things on campus had become an eyesore.” The problems got to the point where the science department considered taking the tanks out completely and turning the space into just another lobby. That’s where Fuquay comes in.
Fuquay wanted to bring the aquaria back so she focused her senior Leadership project on the tanks and with the help of Charles McKenzie, advancement officer, Jacob McGuire, resident director, Eli Rodda, marine biology junior, and Brenna Truhe, English senior, she put a plan in action. Fuquay said, “I’m really excited. This could not have been done without a team of people that helped me every step of the way so I by no means deserve all the recognition for it, I just had the vision for it and I wanted to make it happen and I got people on board so I am thrilled. I am also thankful for the Leadership team for challenging me and supporting me.”
Financially, the science department was at a standstill until major donors stepped in to help. Dr. Robin and Dr. Crystal Walker provided the lead gift to the project. Jim and Robbie Banks, David and Selena Batt, Daniel and Sarah Miller, faculty members, staff members, community members, and the Winfield Chamber of Commerce also helped with financial matters and constant support.
Currently, the tanks do not have any fish in them but they are connected to a water supply, electricity, and the final coat of paint has been added to the framework. Once Fuquay and her team are able to plan with the aquarist, Mark Good, they will begin to fill the tanks with gravel, water, and fish. Ross predicts the aquaria will be ready to go by the end of October.
Kylie Stamper is a junior majoring in communication. You can email her at email@example.com