10 Student Stories to Celebrate 10 Years: Sophia LaPalmeApril 8, 2021
In celebration of 10 years of Bow Seat’s Ocean Awareness Contest, we are showcasing some of the young artists who have helped turn this competition into a global community of creators and changemakers working on behalf of our blue planet.
A lifelong resident of the Gulf Coast, Sophia LaPalme grew up loving the water. Ocean advocacy has been her passion since she experienced the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010. Sophia loves channeling the voice of nature through her writing. She received a Silver Award in Bow Seat’s 2019 contest for her prose essay, “Estuaries: Where the Tide Meets the Stream.” She plans to double major in marine science and journalism next year at the University of Southern Mississippi. Sophia enjoys playing with her many cats, writing too many poems, and going on adventures to fuel her photography addiction.
What have you learned from participating in the Ocean Awareness Contest?
I’ve learned just how strong and powerful my creative voice can be. I now feel that my voice matters; even though I can’t vote, I can still create my own change. I’ve learned that my writing is a vehicle for change and that my voice can create waves.
How long have you been writing? When did you first become interested in the arts?
I practically grew up in libraries, so reading has always been part of my life. My parents are English teachers, and they encouraged me to write as a child. They enthusiastically read my short stories and poems and helped me blossom as a writer. I owe a lot of my success to my mother; she has always encouraged me and helped me along my journey as a writer.
When did you first become interested in protecting the ocean and environment?
The BP oil spill really impacted my childhood. It affected the Gulf Coast immensely, causing a significant environmental impact right near my home. As a young child, I was horrified by such a lack of concern for nature. This really prompted me to use my voice to speak up for environmental change.
What advice would you give to other young people who want to speak up and create positive change on issues important to them?
Do not feel like your voice doesn’t matter.
“Each voice is like a drop of water in the ocean that creates a tidal wave of unavoidable sound.”
As the next generation to take charge, it is our duty to get involved in whatever way we can. Do not feel like you are out of place— voice your concerns and write to politicians. Change doesn’t happen overnight—it is a long process. However, the more people voice their concerns, the more government leaders will listen. So speak up!
What would you like to say to today’s world leaders?
I would love to tell them that they set a precedent for the next generation of world leaders. How they act creates an example for my generation to follow. Climate change doesn’t begin in 20 years, so they need to stop acting like it’s a faraway threat. The threat is unfolding right now in our oceans and must be recognized as one.
The 10th annual Ocean Awareness Contest: WATER RISING, is accepting submissions through June 14, 2021. Learn more about how to participate >