SIOUX CITY | It wasn't until the summer of 2015 when Mallory Sea, then a Morningside College biology and chemistry junior, had the chance to live abroad.
That was when the Sioux City native was one of 20 students chosen to conduct field research in a synthetic organic chemistry lab at the University of Tokyo.
Following her summer in Japan, Sea racked up frequent flyer miles when studying marine and terrestrial ecosystems along Panama's Caribbean coast in the fall of 2015 and completed a marine science internship at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia, earlier this spring.
Next year, the 2016 Morningside College undergraduate will begin working on her master's degree at New Zealand's University of Auckland as a recipient of a Fulbright U.S. Program award in ecology as bestowed by the U.S. Department of State and the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship.
But before her two-year sojourn with the Kiwis of New Zealand, Sea will be teaching scuba diving in Hawaii. (Oh, we forgot to mention that she learned how to scuba dive when she recently spent time in Mexico.)
"My parents are convinced I'm trying to make up for a childhood spent entirely in the States," she said, laughing. "This has never been the case for me. I love marine biology and that's a hard thing to teach in a classroom."
Surprisingly, Sea had a different goal when she enrolled at Morningside.
"I actually went into college with the idea of becoming a dentist," she said with a smile. "That idea lasted about as long as it took me to realize dentistry would never be a passion for me."
Instead, it was the mystery of the ocean that proved alluring.
"There is a certain logic that a girl named Sea would be attracted to the sea," the granddaughter of former Sioux City Community School District Superintendent Darold Sea said.
But Sea, the daughter of an Irving Elementary School music teacher and a Unity Elementary School special education teacher, had always set the bar high for herself.
"Some people keep a CV (curriculum vitae) of all of their life accomplishments," she said. "I keep a CV of all of my failures. That's how I stay motivated while working even harder."
Indeed, Sea had initially applied for the Fulbright Award last year but wasn't accepted.
"I had no problem reapplying for (the Fulbright) again this year," she said. "In my case, the second time was the charm."
Earning this honor immediately put Sea in an elite category. She is only the fourth Morningside graduate to receive the award since 1946. The last Morningside recipient earned it back in 1998.
While Sea loves to explore things in the deep blue ocean, she doesn't entertain any thought of becoming the next Jacques Cousteau.
"I think I could do more good by teaching at the college level," she explained. "I want to teach the next generation of marine biologists."
No matter what paths Sea takes in her life, she'll know travel will remain a big component.
"There's so many places left in the world," she said. "I want to see as much as I can see."