By Alaska Pacific University
Published: Nov. 16, 2023
Tayler Beard is a senior in the Marine and Environmental Science program minoring in Marine Biology at APU. Beard is the Vice President of The Associated Students of Alaska Pacific University (ASAPU), an aquarium technician for the on-campus biology lab, and a student worker for Student Enrollment Services.
As a recipient of the Pell Grant, Beard is eligible for the Promise Tuition Grant. The Promise Tuition Grant ensures that the remainder of Pell-eligible students’ tuition not covered by other grants or scholarships is paid for by the university.
“[The Promise Tuition Grant] was really cool because it covers almost all of my financial aid, which is like, thank you,” said Beard. “Thank you for recognizing that I am a student and I’m working hard.”
Beard’s work with ASAPU helps manage student clubs by providing event assistance and funding. Any student can create a club to cultivate a community around the things they’re most passionate about. There are currently APU student clubs for cooking, climbing, swimming, tabletop gaming, billiards, and a Student Nurses Association, among many others.
“[Campus Life] is a huge community, but it’s also very tight-knit,” said Beard. “You know everyone on campus by name. Even business majors, students I don’t have classes with, you get to know them by doing things in the lounge and just hanging out on campus.”
Recent club-sanctioned events at APU include a blood drive and a stress relief event hosted by Beard to bring sheltered animals to campus during finals week.
“Who doesn’t want a puppy or a kitten to just cuddle with for like 30 minutes?”
Beard’s extracurricular academic endeavors and fieldwork from classes are sprawling. She maintains the aquarium biology lab on the top floor of Grant Hall. Here, she learned hands-on skills like animal husbandry and managing saltwater systems.
In APU’s fisheries ecology class, Beard spent 10 days on six different remote islands in Pedro Bay, Alaska researching salmon and their life cycles.
Last June, Beard embarked on an extracurricular trip to Valdez, Alaska to collect octopus for a live tank at APU. After traveling by charter boat to a remote beach, they found a Giant Pacific Octopus, which unfortunately could not be collected.
“The hard part is getting them out. We could not get them out because the rocks ended up just being so heavy that we couldn’t move them ourselves.”
She also took a scientific diving course in Whittier, Alaska to obtain five certifications: Scientific diving, open diving, dry suit, adventure diving, and rescue diving.
“That has been the best thing I’ve ever done at this university,” she said. “The rescue diver one was so fun. We literally spent one full day out there specifically going through a scenario like, ‘Okay, you have an unconscious diver under the water and you’re down there with them.’ Students actually have to go down there, play unconscious, and do an entire procedure to get them to the surface.”
Beard intends to graduate this December and has been with APU since the spring of 2022. Following graduation, Beard plans on enlisting with the Coast Guard to join their new Environmental Management Program. If all goes according to plan, she will be in the second-ever group of the program since its conception.
“I’ve got big plans. A doctorate degree in evolutionary biology. That’s my end goal, to teach at a university. We’ll see how it goes.”