As a young child, Adrianna George of Milford visited the Seacoast Science Center in Rye regularly with her parents for concerts, face-painting, nature outings and other family programs.
But she always had her eye on the surroundings — and what lived there.
“More often than not, I would sneak away and climb over the rocky shoreline and pick through tidepools and under rocks just to see what I could find,” Adrianna said.
What she found was a passion for marine life that has led her to college studies to become a veterinary pathologist specializing in aquatic animals.
With help from a scholarship from the Winthrop L. and Bernice Blake Perry Fund, Adrianna has undertaken a dual major in Animal Science and Marine Biology at the University of New Hampshire.
The Perry Fund Scholarship was established to help students from Milford, Lyndeborough and Wilton afford college. A volunteer committee of community members, including two prior recipients, selects recipients after meeting with scholarship candidates.
Adrianna knew from a young age that she wanted a career in marine biology, but she didn’t narrow her focus until attending summer camp at the Science Center in 2019, when her group was given the opportunity to dissect a deceased gray seal pup.
“I was fascinated,” she wrote in her scholarship application. “Something about discovering a cause of death and picking apart a dead animal was interesting, even if odd. Later that week, we took care of one of the sick cat sharks at the center, which was equally exciting.
“Finally, I knew what I wanted to do.”
Veterinary pathologists study diseases and causes of death in animals. To reach her goal, Adrianna is embarking on 12 years of study, including undergraduate work, veterinary school and more advanced study for a pathology degree.
“This is going to be a long road, but I’m ready for it,” she said.
Adrianna’s choice was further reinforced during the Science Center’s Marine High School Fellowship Program and an internship at the Merrimack Veterinary Hospital.
“Being involved at both of those places and seeing what people actually do in these fields has driven me forward to help me learn that this is what I want to do,” she said.
It doesn’t hurt that she also excels in her high school studies, has been a leader in the concert and marching band, a member of the tennis team, a 4-H club president and member of the Tri-M Music Honor Society, National Honor Society and National Latin Honor Society.
“I’m definitely a very ambitious person and also a very independent person,” Adrianna said. “Being raised by two very smart and accomplished parents kind of drives me to follow what they did, not necessarily to one-up them, but to make them proud of me.”
Adrianna is looking forward living on her own at UNH, but also is excited about laboratory work, new classroom studies and the opportunity to continue independent studies.
The Perry Fund Scholarship is a major boost for her ambitious goals.
“I am very, very deeply grateful for the opportunity the Fund has given me,” she said. “Their support of me and what I want to do only makes me want to do it more. It’s really helping my drive.”