If you’re in Florida, stop by Zoo Miami and say hey to Cindy Blankenship ’14, the aquatics and ectotherms keeper. (Also be sure to ask her about the 15 reptiles she owns.)
Although some may find reptiles creepy and slimy, Cindy Blankenship has decided there is no other animal for her. In addition to caring for 15 reptiles of her own, she will be spending her days taking care of the animals at Zoo Miami in Florida beginning this summer as an aquatics and ectotherms keeper. Selected out of 150 applicants, Blankenship is ecstatic about the opportunity.
“This is my dream job,” she said. “I am really excited about this opportunity to get to work with a lot of incredible animals and learn more along the way.”
Although Blankenship graduated from Campbell University with a general biology degree, her original intent was to become a pharmacist. That field would have given her a stable source of income to pursue her hobbies on the side, she said.
“I realized pretty quickly that it was not for me,” she said. “I had wanted to be a herpetologist most of my life but wrote it off when I thought that it would be a nearly impossible career path to chase. I guess one day it hit me again and I was confused even as to how I had let it get away from me, since my love for reptiles and amphibians never once faltered. Ever since then I have been focusing in on the field of herpetology.”
Some might write her decision off as impractical, a word that follows many students interested in highly specific fields of study, but Blankenship is quick to disprove them -- and indeed, her success so far is indicative of even greater things to come. “While it is a specialized career path, there is a lot to be said for working hard for something you want. If you want something bad enough and try your best to get it, something will turn up.”
Blankenship also cites Campbell’s individuality as a reason for her advantage in the job market. She deliberately chose Campbell because of its size, stating that she didn’t feel like “a little bitty fish in a great big pond.”--Rachel Davis