By Isaac Morrison
Alex Sweet is living his dream.
After graduating from Beacon College in December 2018, Sweet put his Bachelor of Science degree in anthrozoology to good use as an intern for several marine animal care facilities. His work provides care for aquatic animals that have been in harm’s way and enables those creatures to help people.
The best part: Sweet gets to train bottlenose dolphins face-to-face.
He currently works as an animal behaviorist intern for Island Dolphin Care in Key Largo, Fla. In and out of the water, he trains bottlenose dolphins to provide animal-assisted therapeutic and educational programs for kids, adults with special needs, and their families and caregivers.
His current position is the culmination of Sweet pursuing his dream through Beacon College and his two prior internships at Clearwater Marine Aquarium in Clearwater, Fla. and Dolphins Plus Bayside in Key Largo.
I’m “doing great in what I have always wanted to do, which is training dolphins,” Sweet said. “Honestly, [I] never thought [I’d] get this far in my dreams.”
Not only is he living the sweet life, he’s excelling at it.
One of his proudest moments: acing the animal care advanced swim test with a 100 percent score in his first internship at Clearwater Marine Aquarium.
Now, for Sweet, the hands-on experience with dolphins represents further success.
Success that his learning differences complicated but not counteracted.
“Some of my learning differences had caused me to be slower in some tasks, because I learn best through repetition,” Sweet explained.
Still, his determination and love for dolphins pushes him forward toward realizing his lifelong dream.
“Alex is very dedicated and driven individual,” said Dr. Brian Ogle, a Beacon anthrozoologist who served as Sweet’s primary instructor. “He always used his passion for marine life to push him forward during his time at Beacon College. This passion and dedication will serve him well as he begins to enter a highly competitive job market.”
Sweet credits Beacon College for getting him where he is today. Beacon prepared him for his career pursuit through both instruction in his field and opportunities to show off his knowledge at various anthrozoology and marine animal training conferences.
“The anthrozoology department helped me greatly in learning more about what to might expect in my career field,” he said. That included an opportunity to present his Capstone in Anthrozoology study at both the 2019 International Society of Anthrozoology (ISAZ) in Kissimmee Florida and at the 2019 combined Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and International Marine Animal Trainers’ Association (IMATA) conference in New Orleans, La.
The conferences, Sweet said, “helped me greatly in getting my name out in the field even more so, because of the anthrozoology department at Beacon College.”
The next step for Alex is to keep pushing forward in his dream career.
After his stint with Dolphin Care ends, Sweet plans to continue “working towards a career in working with ocean animals and especially with cetacean species.”
Said Ogle: “When faced with a challenge, Alex will persevere and rise to the occasion. He understands what is expected of him and will strive to ensure the task is completed fully and accurately. Throughout my time working with Alex, he has demonstrated integrity, dedication, and devotion.”
In other words, while he may never sport a funky golden bodysuit or tote a trident, it’s only a matter of time before Sweet becomes Beacon College’s own Aquaman.