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Nikki Rombough, class of 2006Nikki Rombough, class of 2006

A job that's no fish tale

Nikki Rombough's career involves a good dose of both wits and fearlessness. As an associate aquarist for Walt Disney Co. in Orlando, she assists with the collection, maintenance, and well being of fish, sharks, turtles, and stingrays in the park's aquarium.

“I work for Epcot's Living Seas aquarium where I dive twice a day to feed our animals and assess any problems that our population might have,” describes Rombough. “Every few months, I'm sent down to Castaway Cay (Disney's private island in the Bahamas) to take care of our population of Southern stingrays and to help run our guest interaction program on the island.”

Originally from Hayward, Calif., Rombough reflects on a BSC Interim trip to the Galapagos Islands and her research on animal behavior with Dr. Megan Gibbons, associate professor of biology, as two of the biggest factors that led her to become a zookeeper of fish.

“The research into animal behavior was a catalyst for getting me interested in how animals learn and how they adapt once learning has taken place,” she says. “That's definitely helped me in my current role since we do a lot of training and husbandry to enrich our animals, make their lives healthier, and make things easier on them and us if we have to handle them for some reason.”

As a student at Birmingham-Southern, Rombough supplemented her biology studies with a minor in Spanish and was a member of the college's softball team. Her senior year, she turned in a record-setting softball final season and was named a BSC Athlete of the Year.

When it came to choosing her career, she is grateful for BSC affording her the skills and opportunity to follow her heart.

The Galapagos Island trip really reestablished my love for the ocean and the creatures in it,” says Rombough. “Being able to dive there (Galapagos) was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that lit a fire for me wanting to dive as much as I could to see as many different creatures as possible.”