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Student Scholarship Essays “Why I want to be a Geologist...”

Gemma Amorelli, SA-9000 University of Alaska-Anchorage (Sponsored by the Alaska Section)

I’ve never analyzed my motivations for choosing this path. It may be tough to do in a few pages. I’ve had a lifelong fascination with the planet. It began with a childhood curiosity for the patterns and intricacies in minerals. I hoarded min- erals, fossils, and other natural curios - not Pokémon cards or dolls. One of my

childhood heroes and babysitter, Rod, dumbfounded me as a kid with his mineral collection. In retrospect, it is hilarious to think that a 60-something year old man was so excited to show off his rocks to a snotty kid, and to teach me their proper names. It became normal to show off my specimens, and I might have been considered a weirdo in middle school when I showed the neighborhood kids my gypsum rose, selenite, and Apache’s tears. I did not keep in close contact with him after my tweens, though I wish I had because he passed a few years after we were too old to be babysat.

I had a privileged childhood, from toddler times until eigh- teen. I don’t mean in a monetary sense, but that I had a stellar

Maddie Bess, SA-9266 Berry College

When I first arrived at Berry College two and a half years ago, the thought of studying geology had never crossed my mind. Sure, I was already confident in declaring my major in Environmental Science, but at Berry, we also had to declare a concentration for our studies. I realized this decision would be one of the most significant of my college career, and quite frankly, I was intimidated by this choice. All I knew was that I wanted to choose a concentration that would allow me to pursue my passion for environmental stewardship and its relation to public health. Luckily, I would soon meet someone who would make this choice blindingly clear to me.

A month into my freshman year at Berry, I met Dr. Tamie J. Jovanelly at the Majors Fair. I had gone to the fair to chat with the advisors from each concentration to understand what each focus truly had to offer so I could pursue my passions in the most genuine way to myself and my goals. As a West Virginian, I’ve witnessed the environmental degradation of my beloved home state from mountaintop removal and its subsequent impact on human health. I’ve wanted to become an environmentalist for most of my life to change the energy mix of our country so that future generations will inherit public lands to treasure and so that no more young people will have to watch the landscape they love be reduced to rubble. But which concentration would allow me to accomplish this? I asked all the advisors this question, but I was enraptured by Dr. Jovanelly’s answer. A degree in Geology, she said, opened the playing field for me. A deep and robust understanding of our earth’s history and the processes that shape it is the basis for lasting, profound impacts in environmental conservation and sustainability. I have always been committed to public

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single-parent upbringing. My mother was an adventurer, and still is. She took her two kids all over the United States and world. A typical three-day weekend or holiday was spent camp- ing out in the mountains, the Grand Canyon, Zion National Park, Yellowstone, or Yosemite. We loaded up the RV with supplies and left the city often. In that way, I grew up with a healthy mix of suburban city-life and wilderness. I learned that the earth does not always produce crystalline perfection; it is covered in boils at Yosemite, scars at the Grand Canyon, and deformation in the mountains. But why? Like the question that prompted this writing, the why’s underwrote my inter- est in geology. My mother travelled for work, and during my teens she took me all over the world with her. By the time I graduated high school I had floated in the Dead Sea in Jordan, hiked in the Blue Mountains in Australia, cut my knee on a coral reef in Jamaica, and seen the Jade Buddha in Thailand.

For these reasons, and perhaps others that I cannot define, I developed an inherent interest in the geosciences that lingers somewhere in my core. I know that I’m not alone in this; there is something that grasps ahold of earth science enthusiasts. I am not sure how else to make sense of it, and perhaps this is why the original question of “Why do you want to be a geolo- gist?” was asked: to make sense of this invisible tug. This tug stayed with me as I entered both my twenties and a new state.

service, and Dr. Jovanelly was (and still is) shining example of a geologist deeply committed to her field. With her Fulbright Grant, she traveled to Africa to study air and water quality in cities and rural villages impacted by the lack ofenvironmental regulations. She showed me that geologists are not just scientists who study rocks- they are engaged in actively searching and developing solutions to climate and environmental crises. I was enormously inspired by Dr. Jovanelly’s work in academia and her service toothers, and I was moved by how well a Geology degree could equip me with the knowledge to make my own contribution to environmental and public health. No other major seemed sorelevant to the global environmental and health issues we face in today’s society. On that same day, I confidently declared myconcentration as the newest member of the Berry College Geology Department. With only a year and a half left inmy college career, I can honestly say I’ve never mo r e a nt


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entering the next stage ofmy adult life. However, I feel confident in more than just my preparedness for graduate school- I feel eager and excited tocontinue my dedica- tion to public service and the environment. Inmy under- graduate career I’ve traveled across Northwest Georgia giving educational talks on natural gas fracturing, and I’ve collaborated with local city commissioners on clean energy transitioning and a bright future for my college town. I would never have been involved in this scope of public service and environmental stewardship without my geology degree. I look forward tomy future with bright eyes, because I know that, with my love and passion for geology and the environment, I’ll make the difference I’ve always striven to make.

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