AAUW’s January program to focus on shark survivor’s story and her advocacy to protect

The public is invited to the La Palma-Cerritos Branch of the American Association of University Women’s (AAUW) first general meeting of 2022 on Thursday, January 20, 2022, at the Cerritos Library at 18025 Bloomfield Avenue in Cerritos, CA, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. There will be social time from 6:30 p.m. followed by a Power Point presentation by guest speaker, Maria Korcsmaros, at 7:00 p.m. Maria will tell her story about being “Kissed By A Shark Wellness” and about what happened to her as she describes as “My Journey into Advocacy.” Maria is the Southern California Chair of Shark Stewards, an Ocean Health and Shark Conservation non-profit from the San Francisco area that was founded in 2000 by Marine Biologist and adjunct professor at the University of San Francisco, David McGuire. As Founder and Director of Shark Stewards, David will also be present to answer any questions about Shark Stewards. There will be a branch business meeting following Maria’s presentation.

Maria Korcsmaros is a former resident of Corona and currently a resident of Placentia. She is a certified professional fitness instructor, personal trainer, instructor, and a Venice Nutrition certified nutritionist and coach. Maria was a triathlete who competed in swimming, bicycling, and running. As a triathlete, she was training for an ironman triathlon competition when she was attacked by a great white shark on May 29, 2016, while she was swimming at Big Corona Beach in Corona Del Mar on Memorial Day weekend. She was bitten by an 8 to 10 ft. shark, two times in five seconds and suffered severe injuries and blood loss that was life threatening. Luckily, lifeguards were nearby and pulled her out of the water and started first aid. She underwent four hours of surgery with two blood transfusions, and damage to ribs, pelvis, right triceps, lateral femoral nerve and liver. It is a miracle that she survived!

Rather than being bitter from this experience, Maria turned her fear into fascination and then to advocacy. She met David McGuire shortly after surviving the shark attack and wanted to learn more about sharks. She joined his Shark Stewards team and learned over the past five years, that the ocean’s ecosystem, sharks, and our planet are closely connected with our own health as humans. Maria said that climate change is a big part of affecting the oceans, sharks, and all its inhabitants as well as the planet itself. She believes that “we are all inexplicably tied together.”

She learned that the oceans are at risk with plastics polluting and killing marine life and destroying reef. She also learned that sharks are overfished and one third of sharks are threatened with extinction and that sharks are critical for maintaining the health of ocean ecosystems. When she learned that millions of sharks were being killed just for their fins to be made into soup, with the rest of their bodies discarded in the ocean, she became an advocate to protect sharks. She joined the Shark Stewards to help protect sharks, reefs, other marine life and habitat. She is the owner of “Kissed By A Shark Wellness” as a personal fitness instructor, and is the Director of an Annual 5K/ 1 mile Fun Run, Run4Sharks & Ocean Health Fair in Newport Beach. The run raises funds to support the work of Shark Stewards to protect sharks and the ocean. Proceeds from the runs are used for youth ocean education. For more information, about becoming a Shark Steward, contact Maria at [email protected]

Following the presentation, guests are welcome to stay for the branch business meeting to learn more about the activities of the La Palma-Cerritos Branch of the AAUW. For more information about the La Palma-Cerritos AAUW’s program on January 20, 2022, contact Co-Program VP Karen Cox at 562-519-0596.

The January general meeting of La Palma-Cerritos AAUW will feature speakers David McGuire and Maria Korcsmaros. Courtesy photo.
The January general meeting of La Palma-Cerritos AAUW will feature speakers David McGuire and Maria Korcsmaros. Courtesy photo.
This article was written by Edna Ethington.