battleface shares the mission of ExploringWomen.com in celebrating “women who are strong role models, follow their passion, share their knowledge and pursue their dreams.”
Sophie Hollingsworth is a 24 year old ocean advocate, explorer and the founder of the non-profit AquaAid International. AquaAid International establishes sustainable sources of drinking water and sanitation in remote communities of Nicaragua.
Sophie was born and raised in Sarasota, Florida. With the ocean as her playground she grew up an avid sailor and scuba diver. She holds a 200-ton captain’s license and has sailed across the Pacific Ocean, exploring the many islands and cultures of the South Pacific and Australia. She graduated from New York University with a BA in Environmental Studies and Public Health and furthered her studies by obtaining a Masters of Health Security and Bioterrorism at the University of Sydney and a Certificate of Global Health and National Security from Harvard University.
Sophie and her sister, Emma, were raised by their single mother, who was also her first mentor.
She remembers that her mother ‘worked around the clock to provide us opportunities, her work ethic inspired me to give that extra degree of effort in pursing my dreams. As a young girl I grew up dreaming of being a ballerina but also devoured articles in National Geographic about deforestation and tribes disappearing at alarming rates.
‘I was mesmerized by photos of the Amazon and cultures whose names I couldn’t pronounce. I remember feeling this immense sense of urgency along with the realization that we could be a part of the last generation to live in a world where such places even exist. While I fantasied of visiting these remote and exotic lands before they disappeared, I never thought I could actually make a career out of it, in part because I didn’t have any female role models in exploration and thought the closest I could get to being an explorer was to marry someone like Indiana Jones.’
In getting to know Sophie this past year I feel she has experienced more than many will in a lifetime and asked what life lessons she would like to share.
‘I think one of the most important lessons from exploration is the importance of flexibility and maintaining curiosity. Society educates us to be settled in a comfortable chair avoiding all risk – we are encouraged to do little more than maintain a job, get a car, house and small talk about the weather. However, I believe this secure path limits the opportunities for growth and stifles our dreams.
‘Exploring has taught me to be more comfortable living at the edge of uncertainty by encouraging me to be flexible and by igniting my curiosity. On expeditions things rarely turn out according to plans, and adapting to those changes with grace and flexibility is imperative. There is no point in dwelling or lamenting the change of plans the only option is to move forward with the next best plan. The same goes for curiosity, on expeditions we often have a heightened sense of curiosity being in strange and unfamiliar lands, that curiosity is often curtailed when we return to everyday life and the familiar, yet when you remain curious even in a place or community you think you know well, there is a lot to be discovered.’
Future female explorers
Sophie is an eloquent and passionate speaker whose words resonate with young women across the world. I asked her about the impact she would like to have on the next generation and she quickly replied:
‘I am where I am because I am standing on the shoulders of the female explorers who came before me. My goal is grow those shoulders even higher for the next generation of young women. Impacting the next generation of young women encourages me to further step out of my comfort zone and do my small part to help inspire the next generation of young women to push boundaries and follow their dreams.’
Sophie emphatically tells me, ‘If you can dream it, with a lot of hard work, you can do it!’
Visit Sophie’s website