Alpha 1 2015 – Meet The Staff
written by Social Media Coordinator, Ryan Smith
Emily Sesno, Program Director
Although “Sesno” is now living on Tortola working as a Dive Instructor for Sail Caribbean Divers during the off season, this will also be her third summer with Sail Caribbean! She grew up in northern Virginia and graduated from Eckerd College with a Bachelor’s of Science in Marine Biology and a minor in Environmental Studies. Since joining us, she has risen from Marine Biology Mate to Program Director. Sesno fell in love with all things diving, sailing and marine biology after participating in a summer adventure program at age 16, which made her choice to study marine biology no question. Travel has always been on Sesno’s itinerary, having visited, studied abroad, or lived in places such as Honduras, Bahamas, California, Maine, and New Zealand. She loves Sail Caribbean because of its incorporation of scuba diving, and loves seeing students get as excited about it as she is. Outside of Sail Caribbean, she loves arts and crafts, painting, developing her own film photography, and writing down quotes in a small quote book that she carries around. Always found with a backwards hat on, Sesno hopes to possibly buy a boat in the near future to live on for a while!
Renée Thibodeaux, Captain
We welcome back Renée for her second summer with us. Renée comes from Durango, CO and plans to graduate from Prescott College in December with a degree in secondary education and adventure education. From the time of her very first dive 10 years ago in the British Virgin Islands with her dad on Father’s Day, she has since dove all around the world, even Greece, Tonga, and Panama. Briefly, she took a break from scuba diving to be a white water raft guide in Colorado, but sure enough, the ocean kept calling her back. Renée loves being a part of Sail Caribbean because it’s a community of young people who love the outdoors and love teaching. Last year’s Challenge Day, when students are put in sole control of their boats, will always be genuinely special to Renée because of how tremendous they performed. A true teacher at heart, she loves empowering students through sailing, as hard, but thrilling as it is. Outside of Sail Caribbean, Renée has always been keen on education and also enjoys rock climbing, rafting, camping, hanging out with her family, and music. She even plays the guitar, flute and guitelele!
Kevin Bonnie, Captain
Kevin joins us all the way from Balbriggan, Dublin in Ireland for his second year with Sail Caribbean. Kevin attended Colaiste Dhulaigh College, and also another year attending West Highland College in Scottland, studying Adventure Tourism Management. Inside his courses, he had his first formal sailing training, and also enjoyed kayaking, windsurfing, power boating, and mountaineering. He previously worked in centers back home in the west of Ireland teaching these adventurous activities. Here at Sail Caribbean, it’s seeing the students with no experience progress so much that Kevin truly loves. Described as a great combination of calm and witty, Kevin is funny and innovative, and loves to make up games. Although, it’s no joke that he is unfortunately unable to do a forward roll.
Alex Polli, Mate, Medical Officer
Born in Northport, NY (the stateside hometown of Sail Caribbean!), Alex currently attends Penn State University studying Psychology with a minor in Human Development. She is the president of the Penn State Sailing Team and works in a research lab studying the effects of nature’s impact on one’s cognitive ability. Sailing’s popularity in Long Island had a huge influence on Alex, who says she’s lived on the water all her life. She has been sailing since she was seven, when a local yacht club sponsored her and she began racing Opti’s and 420’s. This is Alex’s first year as Sail Caribbean staff, but she was a student from 2008 until 2012. Smiley, outgoing and always eager to learn, Alex loves Sail Caribbean for the way it can mesh everybody together. She says, “You meet all kinds of people that you would never get the chance to meet otherwise.” Alex’s favorite location from the program is Salt Island, and she could never forget the best summer of her life, the Sierra program in 2011. With an agenda to graduate college and sail, sail, and sail some more, you would never guess her twin actually has a fear of boats and refuses to go on them.
Alex Armson, Mate
Alex, joining us for her first year, calls Bango, Northern Ireland home, but currently attends the University of Birmingham in the UK studying politics and international relations. Coming from a town just a glance away from the sea, at age 8, Alex enrolled in a sailing class at the yacht club around the corner from her house, and sailing has never not been a part of her life since. After earning all RYA certifications at the yacht club, at age 17, she was spending all her weekends and spare time teaching sailing. It became an even bigger part of her life when she went to university and became a member of the sailing team, which competitively races every few weeks. Alex finds it incredible that she will now be able to teach kids and show them all the incredible sailing experiences that she’s had the pleasure to grow up having. She even got to step out of her sailing craze to try her hand at scuba diving for the first time with us. After the season, she can’t wait to scuba dive between two tectonic plates during her planned trip to Iceland.
Emily “Grom” Current, Water Sports Intern
Having attended Sail Caribbean three consecutive summers as a student, Emily now joins us for the first time as the water sports intern! Emily grew up in Ponte Vedra Beach, FL, and now attends Elon University in North Carolina studying cinematography and digital art and also acting as a wild life leader. Emily got her infamous nickname “Grom,” which stands for young surfer, due to her unmistakable passion for surfing. Having surfed ever since she can remember, Emily is an amazing, competitive surfer, and surfs almost twice every day when she is back at her home beach. She will be competing at Eastern Championship’s for Amateur Women’s surfing this September. As for her career with us, she is grateful for the life experience she has and the people that she met from attending Sail Caribbean and now, can’t wait to inspire others to love sailing as much as she does. Outside of Sail Caribbean, she also enjoys music, wakeboarding, and working with Young Life, which is a program that reaches out to young adolescents to foster opportunities. It doesn’t take long to recognize that as small as Emily is, her feisty side shines through. She even did MMA for 8 years and played football as a kid.
Justin Perry, Fleet Captain
Growing up in East Texas, “Perry” had never been diving or sailing before he joined Sail Caribbean six years ago. Known as a mechanically inclined “Jack of all trades” with a super strong work ethic, Perry is the key to logistics coordinating our land activities, water sports, and all equipment used during our adventures. Perry attended University of Texas at Dallas, earning a degree in Arts and Technology. He also participated in a nonprofit boys and girls club where he befriended and tutored underprivileged kids. Perry will be expanding his role as OPs Director this season and act as Fleet Captain for the Early Alpha program. Perry loves Sail Caribbean because of its people, both staff and students. He says, “One of the mottos I live by is no matter how old you are and no matter how young you are, you have something to teach me. At Sail Caribbean, there are so many people to learn from.” His favorite part of the job is getting to travel everywhere inside the British Virgin Islands as his skills become needed throughout programs. His favorite place is Musk Melon Bay on Guana Island which is great for wake boarding. Perry sees working on boats, something he truly loves, as a perk rather than a job.
The greatest challenge during the program was staying entertained during the quarantine period. Not being able to leave your boat and not having a phone, which was a crutch against boredom, it was difficult at first to stay entertained.