Meet Vivian Bisset, a PALCS 2012 graduate who has gone on to travel internationally and get involved with the scientific community as an Ecologist who studies how animals and plants interact with their environment.
After graduating from PALCS in 2012, Vivian studied at Kutztown University where she received her Bachelor of Science Degree in Biology (Organismal/Ecology) in 2016. She explains, “during my undergraduate college experience I was actively involved on campus. I was a Community Assistant (RA), the School Mascot, president of our Dance Club and Kindness Organization.” Vivian was also involved as a biology mentor and a member of the National Residence Hall Honorary.
As a sophomore in college, Vivian held her first internship as an Environmental Steward with the Delaware State Parks and during her junior year, she attended a medical service trip to Panama where she assisted in providing medical care to rural Panamanian communities. “As a senior, I had the opportunity to conduct independent biological research, which I presented during the Ecological Society of America’s Eastern Region Conference in 2016,” Vivian explains.
A few weeks after graduating from Kutztown University, Vivian began her career by working for the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture’s Entomology Department. It was there where she helped conduct surveys and implement management strategies for the Spotted Lanternfly Eradication Program. “I then went on to work for a field season with the Mt. Cuba Center in Delaware as a Natural Lands Assistant, before deciding to pursue my master’s degree in Scotland.”
Vivian moved to Scotland, where she attended the University of Aberdeen and graduated in 2019 with a Master of Science Degree in Ecology and Conservation. It was here where she completed a research thesis on wood ants and their effects on the environment in northern Scotland. She continues, “I became a member of the Royal Entomological Society and presented my research in August 2019 at the annual conference in London.” Vivian graduated from her program in 2019 with distinction.
While living in Scotland, Vivian got married to her husband, Kyle, in August of 2019. “We have been happily married for over one year now, and look forward to building our future together in the UK,” Vivian happily exclaims.
Over the years, Vivian has filled her time with several jobs including teaching, nannying, photography, marketing and social media, dance, and even as a ziplining instructor!
When asked what challenges she has had to face in 2020, Vivian shares, “the biggest challenge that I have had to overcome this year is being in-between countries during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
As she already shared, she and her husband got married last summer in Scotland. Vivian explains, “due to the timing of the pandemic in conjunction with when our visa application was filed, we have been living on two separate continents for the majority of the year. While Kyle is living in Scotland, I am living back in Pennsylvania while we wait for our visa to be processed.” Vivian hopes to be back in Scotland before long, so that she can be reunited with her husband and start working as an ecologist in the UK. “While I am still waiting to overcome this obstacle,” Vivian continues, “I am thankful for technology during a time like this so that I can keep in touch with my loved ones, no matter where they might be in the world!”
Her Time at PALCS
Before her post-graduate adventures, Vivian got her start with online connections by joining the PALCS community in 2007. She was traditionally homeschooled up until the 8th grade when she made the switch to cyber. “While looking around at the other schooling options, my family and I chose PALCS primarily due to the variety of programs offered,” Vivian explained. “Between an active student government, the Center for Performing and Fine Arts, class trips, and more, I felt that PALCS could provide many different ways for me to grow. It felt like the perfect school to have the flexibility of learning from home with a lot of the benefits of traditional public education.”
During her time at PALCS, Vivian attended the Center for Performing and Fine Arts program (CPFA) from 2009 until 2012. She was a member of the National Honor Society throughout high school, and was editor-in-chief of the yearbook at CPFA.
Vivian was also actively involved in the Student Government. “This is where I had the pleasure of learning from Mr. Parris, a teacher that had a massive impact on my life,” she explains. “I graduated from Senator, to Vice President, to President of the PALCS Student Government throughout my time in high school.”
In addition, Vivian was also a part of Mr. Parris’s Leadership Program, where she had the opportunity to take training courses, attend retreats, and even lobby in Harrisburg and Washington, D.C. Vivian shares that these experiences helped to prepare her to become a leader, “by teaching me how to collaborate, adapt, listen, set goals, and problem-solve. The skills that I learned from Mr. Parris helped me to take on the world after high school and made me a better version of myself.”
Vivian shares that one of her most influential teachers that she had at PALCS was Miss Warliga (now Mrs. Masino). “She taught my General Science course in the 8th grade. She took it upon herself to start an elective, Marine Mammalogy, and opened it up to 8th graders in addition to the high schoolers. This elective really changed the trajectory of my life because up until that point, I wasn’t really interested in science.”
After taking this class for a semester and having the opportunity to travel to Florida to learn more about Marine Biology, Vivian realized how many different aspects of science there were. “Marine biology was all new to me, as was the idea of ecology– the science of the interactions of organisms with one another and with their environment. That elective science class, and Miss Warliga in particular, sparked a curiosity in me that continued to grow into a deep love for biology.”
In addition to the clubs and courses she was involved in at PALCS, Vivian had also been a dancer. “I was trained in tap, ballet, jazz, and modern.” She explains how she got to explore other art forms during her time at CPFA. “It was here that my love for photography grew.”
To this day, tap dancing and photography both continue to be some of Vivian’s favorite hobbies. In her free time, she also enjoys hiking, working out, playing guitar, traveling, and volunteering.
“Be patient with yourself,” Vivian encourages others. “If this is your first time doing online learning, there will likely be a learning curve. That’s okay! You will learn what works best for you. You are in charge of your learning experience, so take charge of that independence and run with it!”
She continues, “The flexibility of cyber school allows you to complete your work at your own convenience, so it is important to learn how and when you work the best. Are you most productive in the mornings? Get an early start and crank out your assignments! Do you work better in shorter spurts throughout the day? Space out your school day accordingly! No matter what though, learn what works for you and stick to it. Keep a schedule to stay on top of your assignments because it is always harder to get caught up than it is to get ahead. Use your time wisely. You will get out of the experience what you put into it. Just because the school is online
doesn’t mean that you can’t also find ways to stay active within the school and get involved. There are a variety of opportunities to learn and grow, all while making connections and building community from the comfort of your own computer.”
PALCS would like to thank Vivian for taking the time to answer our questions and for sharing her story and great advice with us. We truly appreciate it, and are so incredibly proud! To find out what PALCS can make possible for your family, start by learning more about a PALCS school day here. Keep chasing your dreams!