When John William Brandon, IV graduates from the Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College of Florida Atlantic University in May, it will be another step in his journey that is rooted in an interest in marine science that started at a very young age. Since sixth grade, John has blazed an academic path that no one has done before. In 2009, while attending Forrest Grove Middle School, he enrolled in the first year of the Marine Oceanographic Academy Prep Program (MOA Prep). The program is a specially designed to identify and prepare a limited cohort of grade 6-8 students for the transition to a specialized high school that was also in its infancy, the Marine and Oceanographic Academy (MOA) of Harbor Branch at Florida Atlantic University.
After John graduated from MOA in 2015, he began his college career at the Wilkes Honors College. He continued his interest in marine science, participating in the 2018 Harbor Branch Semester by the Sea (SBTS) Program. SBTS is a semester-long immersion in marine science, with an emphasis on marine biology. John also volunteered at the Harbor Branch Ocean Discovery Visitor Center and worked on further developing a citizen science called DNAngler, which used interested fisherman to engage in innovative molecular techniques to monitor fish in the Indian River Lagoon. He presented a poster on DNAngler at the Indian River Lagoon Symposium in February 2019.
While an undergraduate, John also worked with a student with disabilities and spent time with that student’s family. He participated in several sports, including ping pong, ultimate frisbee, and baseball. He worked with a group that visited a nursing home and played music, and he spent one year working on a committee that decided which groups received monies for their activities. John was frequently seen around campus playing guitar and ukulele and participated in the many opportunities offered by FAU to attend to football and baseball games, concerts, amusement parks, etc., rounding out his undergrad years.
In May, John will receive a Bachelor of Science in Biology, with a concentration in Marine Biology. John will continue to do great things. His success is a model for other students who are interested in an educational path that allows them to fully explore the fantastic natural environment of the Treasure Coast as they grow up.
John, congratulations, and good luck!