Malerie Weston is determined to make a difference.
The Deakin University first-year marine biology student will travel to a small island in Cambodia in December as part of a Reach Out Volunteers program.
After attending a seminar conducted by program organisers at the Warrnambool campus, Ms Weston was immediately drawn to the cause.
Inspired by the remote location and the opportunity to make a difference, the 27-year-old decided to embark on a two-week marine conservation adventure volunteering in one of the poorest Third World countries.
“This one (program) seemed the best to me because there doesn’t seem to be a lot (of research and conservation) going on in this area,” she said.
“These are tiny little islands that are off the tourist track.
“The people haven’t been educated as to why what they are doing is hurting them rather than helping them.”
The work will be hard and hands-on and volunteers are expected to work from dawn to dusk.
“If we are not in the water cleaning up nets and talking to locals, we are on the island fixing up schools and houses,” she said.
Fascinated by the ocean and everything in it, marine biology has been Ms Weston’s passion since she was eight years old.
Aspiring to a career in research or conservation, she believes undertaking the program will be a “good stepping stone”.
Ms Weston has been increasing her knowledge on sustainable fishing and living in preparation for her trip where she will strive to improve the environment and minimise human impact.
Her love of travel has her excited about experiencing a different culture where she will sleep in a small shelter and eat food provided by the locals.
But to Ms Weston the experience is a bonus.
“I just hope that what we are doing makes a difference,” she said.