I received the American Institute for Indonesian Studies CAORC Research Fellowship in 2015 to examine vulnerable grouper fisheries in Indonesia. I used the fellowship to extend my research time and geographic scope in Indonesia, as I had just finished a U.S. Department of State Fulbright Student Research Fellowship. At that moment, this was one of the very few research scholarships available for an early career researcher. Because I was able to extend my time in Indonesia, I made more connections with academics at different universities in Indonesia and worked more closely for a longer period with my research collaborators on our analyses. This was beneficial to both my career and to the careers of my colleagues at Universitas Udayanna. I was also able to finish data collection with my colleagues for an unexpected discovery of a new grouper species, Epinephelus kupangensis (Tucker et al., 2016). With the AIFIS CAORC Research Fellowship, my research experience in Indonesia was significantly more impactful for my academic career. My research and mentoring experiences abroad and the discovery of Epinephelus kupangensis strengthened my skills and narrowed my focus as an academic. These experiences better prepared me as a candidate for graduate school and for the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program. I am now a PhD student of Marine Biology at the University of Hawai’i. Although, I have no current research projects in Indonesia, I look forward to the next opportunity and speak to my Indonesian collaborators often! The AIFIS CAORC Research Fellowship was a life-changing opportunity and I thank all of those whom have made it possible.