In 1998, Jenny Windler did her first dive among a shoal of sharks in the Bahamas. Next week, she will switch gears and swim with dolphins.
Windler, a 21-year-old senior, is one of nine Baker University students who is traveling Jan. 17 through Jan. 24 to Roatan, an island off the coast of Honduras.
The group will do 18 daylight dives and two night dives during its adventure in the Caribbean, which will earn Windler and the other students course credit at the liberal-arts college in Baldwin.
"I'm hoping it will be exciting," she said this week while training at Mask-Snorkel-Fin, 1301 E. 25th St. "I'm a little worried that nothing will compare to the shark's dive."
Rand Ziegler, professor of psychology and interterm scuba class instructor, assured Windler that the $1,800 trip would be worth it.
"On a regular dive, there's a very slim chance of seeing a dolphin," he said. "I've dived for 18 years, and I've never seen a dolphin in the wild."
A nearby dolphin marine research facility allows the divers to interact with dolphins in an unstructured environment, he said.
Since 1983, Ziegler has taught a scuba diving class off and on during the college's interterm, a three-week period sandwiched between winter break and the spring semester.
"Interterm is a little bit unique," he said. "What it provides for us here is to do something a little bit off the wall."
For example, in 1998, Ziegler took 14 students to Walker's Cay in the Bahamas where they were able to scuba dive among hundreds of hungry sharks. Other trips have taken students to Belize, the Cayman Islands and Cozumel, Mexico.
On this trip, the advanced diver is looking forward to the night dives when different sea creatures are looming in the dark waters.
"Night dives are really fun because they're kind of spooky," Ziegler said. "The only thing you can see is right in front of you. You also see octopus and sea horses which come out at night. You typically don't see them during the day."
Once in the water, Rane Delzeit, a 20-year-old Baker junior, said she hopes to take some underwater photos of plants and animal life. She said she might even do underwater photography as a hobby someday.
"I've always been an animal lover, and it's something that sounded like fun," she said. "Plus, it gets me out of the country."
In addition to the diving course, a diversity workshop, which covers the topics of race, gender, sexual orientation and religion, and Hollywood Goes to War, where students explore the parallel development of motion pictures and modern warfare, are offered at Baker during this interterm Jan. 3-24. Another course, Our Nation's Capital: The History of Washington, D.C., takes students to the capital where they attend a presidential inauguration.