Mel Fisher Maritime Heritage Society & Historical Museum, Key West FL
Mel Fisher Maritime Heritage Society
Dolores E. Fisher Award

Application Process

The Dolores (Deo) Fisher Award will be given annually to one young woman between the ages of 16 and 21 or to one young woman between 22 and 30. Finalists in each age group will compete for the $1,000 cash award and trophy.

Four Requirements:

  • Completion of the application form; (Click here to download printable form.)
  • A 1,000 word essay describing how the candidate hopes to make a difference in the world through her passion for the oceans;
  • A written statement outlining career goals, where along her path the candidate is, where she expects to be by May of the award year, and how the Dolores E. Fisher Award will help her achieve these goals;
  • Three letters of recommendation sealed by the author.

The complete application package should be mailed to:

Department of Education
Mel Fisher Maritime Heritage Society
200 Greene St.
Key West, FL 33040

The award cycle opens in January and closes by mid-March 2008. There is a six-member selection committee that will decide upon and notify the winner by May 15, 2008. Certificates of honorable mention will also be awarded. The committee reserves the right not to award the prize. Final decisions may bebased on phone or personal interviews.

Mel Fisher Maritime Museum

The Mel Fisher Maritime Heritage Society is a
501 (c)(3) accredited,
not-for-profit organization existing for the purpose of accumulating and disseminating information; providing educational services to the public on maritime and colonial activity in the New World and preserving maritime culture resources.


2008 Award Winners


Aurora AlifinoAurora Alifano, a scientific diver, graduated from the University of California, Santa Cruz, with a Bachelor of Science degree in Marine Biology. Currently, she is completing her Master of Science in Marine Science at Moss Landing Marine Labs. Upon graduation, her career aspiration is to direct a diving safety program at an academic institution, integrating marine education and dive medicine.

Aurora named determination, “I can do anything if I view obstacles as opportunities,” and imagination, “A good leader can always find new and creative ways to motivate their team,” as the personality characteristics she values most in herself.

Aurora’s winning essay “Making Waves” elucidates her passion for the oceans and her plans for building a capacity for change through her work advancing marine research, and promoting dive safety and education.



Aurora AlifinoJenna Algee is an accomplished Marine Biology student at the Maine Maritime Academy. She is planning a career in environmental law with a focus on marine policy and hopes to play a role in decreasing the risks facing our oceans.

Jenna named curiosity as the personality characteristic she values most and reflected, “I believe curiosity is the most valuable characteristic a student can have. I am always interested in what I am learning and have never been afraid to ask questions.”

Jenna’s essay outlines her plans to enact change regarding the risk factors facing our marine environments and portrays her awareness of the interconnected nature of humans and the health of our oceans.





Alexandra Maria AvilaAlexandra Maria Avila

The 2007 winner is Ms. Alexandra Maria Avila of Gaithersburg, Maryland. Alexandra is a junior in biology and environmental science at Hood College in Frederick, MD and presently on a semester abroad in Quito, Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands. She is thoroughly bilingual in English and Spanish. In answer to the question: What personality characteristics do you value most about yourself and why? Alexandra comments: “Foremost honesty. If everyone were honest, our society would be an ever-so-much- better place. Also, my tenacity, my free spirit, my joy of living, my curiosity about the world around me, my willingness to work hard for what I believe in.” Her essay is entitled MY WATER WORLD.

Her experiences include: Biology Technician and Wildland Firefighter for the U. S. Forest Service in Mt. Hood National Forest; Biology Tutor at Hood College; Intern, Smithsonian Environmental Research Center in Edgewater, MD; Participant in Hood’s Coastal Semester therefore visiting Florida laboratories and field stations. She has been honored as a state finalist for the Miss Maryland USA pagent, has received a Merit Scholarship and Hispanic Scholarship Fund Awards.

She is listed in Who’s Who in American High Schools (2001-2004). For fun it is carpentry, electronics, photography, acting, painting and sculpting. Congratulations Alexandra! You are indeed passionate about the oceans and extremely motivated.

Megan Rose McWhite LamsonMegan Rose McWhite Lamson shares a common heritage with our former director Dr. Madeleine Burnside. Both are graduates of the University of California Santa Cruz – (“Go banana slugs!”). At UCSC Megan was on the Dean’s List, awarded Highest Honors in her major and was admitted into Phi Beta Kappa. Megan is presently finishing her first year of a two-year graduate program in tropical conservation biology and environmental science at the University of Hawaii, Hilo. She volunteers as a soccer coach, Hawksbill Turtle Monitoring Observer, and as a marine naturalist.

Her hope is to inspire and inform the next generation to appreciate their natural surroundings and to acquire a mind-set of sustainability and conservation. The personality characteristics that she values: “I’ve got drive and determination that won’t fail. I love that when I put my mind to something I am committed until the end. I display power and confidence like a good leader, yet I pride myself more in my ability to listen and observe. Megan’s essay was entitled BRIDGING THE GAP BETWEEN CONSERVATION, RESEARCH, and COMMUNITIES: A tale from one marine ecologist in the making. Megan too is fluent in English and Spanish. Congratulations to you Megan! We wish you continued success in every endeavor.

Click here to read her essay.
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Erin MyersErin Myers

Erin distinguished herself early in life – at age 23 to be exact. She undertook a 30,000-mile circumnavigation of the globe as Captain and Expedition Leader of the 43-foot ketch MAKULU II. Her essay is entitled “From Sea to Shining Sea”. The personality characteristic that Erin values most about herself is the ability to be a team leader and to identify and encourage team members’ strengths to create a dynamic and positive environment. She did this for nearly three years with a crew of four for the educational journey REACH THE WORLD (, bringing her adventures into the inner-city classrooms via the Internet. Erin continues to lead and intends to start graduate school in environmental science and management.

Click here to read her essay.
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Andrea RiveraAndrea Rivera

The title of Andrea’s essay is “Ocean Dreaming”. Andrea was born in Honduras and as a young teenager moved to New Jersey. The personality characteristic that Andrea values most about herself is her involvement and motivation to become involved and inspire others to help and actively pursue ways to help the marine environment. She is presently attending the University of Hawaii at Manoa. After graduation, Andrea hopes to return to Honduras to develop strategies to couple development with sustainability of the mangrove and coral reef ecosystems.

Click here to read her essay.
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Leda CunninghamLeda Cunningham

Leda is a candidate for an MBA/MA in Global Environmental Policy at American University in Washington, DC. Her experience includes being Dive Outreach Coordinator for the National Environmental Trust for the Conserve Our Oceans Legacy (COOL) campaign. Included in her success is “Dive into Earth Day” a SCUBA certification course for members of Congress and their staff. She supervised formation of the Capital Hill Dive Club. She and others have recruited 150 plus dive groups in 26 states as signatories to COOL. Previously Leda was first an intern and then office manager for the Reef Environmental Education Foundation (REEF) in Key Largo, Florida. One reviewer said of Leda “What makes Leda so exceptional is her ability to effectively act in support of her passion.” The title of her essay is “Beneath the Sea: Protecting Earth’s Last True Wilderness from Below.”

Click here to read her essay.
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Maria WojakowskiMaria Wojakowski

Maria has a passion for the well being of sea turtles. Maria recently presented results of field research on the influence of nest site microhabitat on nest temperature and offspring sex ratio of the diamondback terrapins at the New York City Science and Engineering Fair Expo. The title of her essay is “Planet Ocean.”, (viewable on web). Maria has been conducting research with Dr. Russell Burke of Hofstra University, took a marine science course at the American Museum of Natural History, and is presently graduating from Townsend Harris High School at Queens College, Flushing, New York. Her goals are to continue in research. She has been accepted at Duke University and plans a double major in marine science and the biological sciences. Her ultimate goal at the time of this writing is to earn a Ph.D. in marine biology and a veterinary degree in order to conduct research on fibropapillomatosis, a disease of sea turtles.

Click here to read her essay.
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Accredited by the American Association of MuseumsMEL FISHER MARITIME MUSEUM
200 Greene Street
Key West, Florida 33040

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