From an early age, Mia Vallée was always fascinated with marine life.
Although she is from a small, landlocked town outside of Toronto, Vallée learned how to snorkel on family summer vacations to the Virgins Islands. Within a matter of yards, she could swim from the shoreline to the flourishing coral reefs with just a few kicks of her pink flippers.
“I was always astonished by how much life there is in and around the coral,” Vallée said. “From tiny pufferfish to giant green moray eels, every time I would dive below the surface there was always more to see.”
Her love for the ocean and its aquatic specimen was a strong influence on where Vallée decided to attend college. She always knew that she wanted to go to school in the United States but didn’t know where.
When it came down to it, she decided to be a Hurricane. Miami reminded her of the Virgin Islands, and the chance to attend the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science was too good to pass up.
Choosing UM gave Vallée a chance to pursue her interest in marine biology and to participate on the diving team. Growing up, she was one of the top junior divers in Canada.
Vallée is a three-time junior national champion and specializes on the 3-meter springboard. Over the summer she was selected to represent Canada in the World University Games in Naples, Italy, where she made finals on every event she competed in and scored a personal best on the 1-meter springboard.
Earlier this year she qualified for the NCAA Women’s Swimming & Diving Championships with the top performance in the 3-meter springboard at NCAA Zone qualifiers in Athens, Georgia. She also was recognized with All-ACC Academic Honors.
Vallée, a sophomore at The U, is diving deep into her studies this semester.
Once a week she travels to the satellite campus of the marine school on Key Biscayne.
“They set a three-hour block for our lab each week even though we were only in class for an hour and a half,” Vallée said. “The other half of the class is devoted to traveling back and forth between campuses on the shuttle.”
Although she says that these trips become exhausting and time consuming, she
says it’s worth it for all the great experiences she has had along the way.
Recently she visited the Miami Aquarium with her classmates to do research on the captive bottlenose dolphins. Vallée and her classmates were told to record how many times the dolphins came up for air and chirped to one another – their primary form of communication.
At the end of their observations, students were allowed to pull out their cellphones and record a Snapchat or Instagram story of the playful dolphins.