Dijani Laplace is a Graduate Research Assistant and NOAA CCME Scholar working with Harte Research Institute’s Community Resilience group. Dijani obtained his B.S. in Biology at the University of the Virgin Islands in 2020. After graduation, he was connected with HRI through his work on the USVI Hazard Mitigation and Resilience Plan project.
Originally from St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands, Dijani moved to St. Kitts-Nevis at a young age. He returned to the Virgin Islands in 2017, where he studied Biology. Three weeks after his move, he experienced Hurricane Irma, his first major tropical storm. Although he should have been scared, Dijani found excitement in the hard times, as it is a rite of passage in the Caribbean to experience storms and, later, tell your children about the experiences. When asked what he would share with his children, Dijani said, “Don’t underestimate a storm, because that’s what I did. Water can come from any direction. If you think that your doors, windows, or anything else will stop the water, it won’t.”
Although Dijani does not think of his life in terms of accomplishments, he considers his biggest “stepping stone” to success being his arrival at TAMU-CC and HRI. He takes pride in this step in his life because, “you wouldn’t necessarily expect a student from the Caribbean to find themselves in this position and take advantage of it.”
When asked about giving advice to those pursuing a similar educational journey, Dijani emphasized the importance of taking control of your own path. He stated the importance of doing independent research in your desired field. Additionally, he advised people to seek out a professor that has similar research interests. Most notably, Dijani emphasized that “it’s not a rushing game… You might be 21 or 22 and have no idea what you want to do with your life. You still have a lot of time left to know what you want to do.” He expressed that working with professors, getting jobs, and pursuing internships along the way while an undergraduate might pave the way to find what you are truly passionate about.
In his spare time, Dijani enjoys video games such as Call of Duty, playing basketball, and watching TV shows. Currently, he is watching The Expanse, a show on Amazon Prime. Dijani has traveled to many places including St. Kitts-Nevis, Antigua, and Dallas. His favorite travel destination was Washington D.C., particularly the city’s zoo. Additionally, Dijani can often be found coming to HRI with a basketball in hand to play a pick-up game with his friends after a hard day’s work. After graduating from TAMU-CC, Dijani hopes to be in an environmental management position that relates back to his roots in the Caribbean.