Written by Ashleigh Rivera
Whatever scares you most, go directly there. I religiously lived my life throughout my late 20’s with this piece of guidance, which inevitably led me to have unbelievable experiences. It also led me to walk into Ohana Dive Co. one Saturday morning shortly after I made the move to Tennessee. I’m still navigating the realm of diving, and am aware I’ve hardly grazed the surface in this industry, but I am grateful to have met several inspiring women divers, and I feel lucky to even work alongside some of them.
Women’s Dive Day has grown into a worldwide celebration that fosters community. This year, we want to highlight the journey’s of the Ohana women! We all have different stories for what drove us to diving and when it “clicked” for us underwater. However, upon interviewing the Ohana staff, I learned the prevailing tell-tales of when young women decisively overcame their fear.
I was that little girl who loved the ocean, but had a fear of it. I received exposure to the water at a young age, but it wasn’t until high school that I went on a 21-day conservation trip, received my advanced certification, and studied marine environments in the BVI. I wish I could say that that was the beginning of many dive adventures, but it wasn’t. Nine years and no dives later, I came across my Facebook memories of my BVI trip and frankly, I was angry with myself. I knew I needed that passion back in my life. The following day I walked into Ohana Dive Co. and haven’t left since. I’m now a Divemaster candidate and earned the title of Scuba Queen USA 2023! My goals are to compete internationally, further my diving education and create marine educational programs for youth. My fear has turned into respect; and my advice to those nervous about diving is “as humans it is unnatural to breathe underwater, but through technology we have been gifted this beautiful ability and I promise it is one of the most rewarding things you will ever do.”
My diving career began by accepting a dare to take a Discover Scuba Class. My love for it wasn’t immediate. I would have frequent panic attacks in the water, but now being in the water is my therapy. I finished my Open Water in May 2018 and spent as much time in the water as possible. Along the way, I discovered a passion for not only diving, but teaching and sharing that passion with others. I have since then finished my IDC Staff Instructor certification! My goal is to continue to educate others on the amazing world that lies beneath the surface. If you are the least bit hesitant to try Scuba Diving, get out of your head and come talk to me.
I started diving at the beginning of 2023 while studying abroad in the Turks and Caicos Islands for a Marine Resources program. There, I received my Open Water and Advanced Open Water certifications. I did mostly scientific diving, which consisted of population surveys and coral tree installations. I remember being so nervous to learn to dive; all the different gear and breathing underwater seemed overwhelming at the time. I was worried something would malfunction or I would get lost. Surprise – I loved it! I was taught how to handle every scenario safely and calmly. I discovered how intricate, resilient, and beautiful the marine ecosystems are. Diving helped me figure out my next steps after finishing my undergraduate degree. I want to become a professional diver and use my skills to obtain a master’s degree in marine science. Now, I’m a summer intern at Ohana and pursing my dive master certification!
I hope these brief stories serve as a powerful reminder of the strength and resilience within each of us, inspiring others to embark on their own underwater adventures. As another Women’s Dive Day has come and gone, let us carry the spirit of empowerment and camaraderie forward, creating a ripple effect that amplifies the voices and accomplishments of women in the diving community. Most importantly, let us remember that the best things come on the other side of fear.