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My courses included Geophysics, Structural Geology, Statics & Mechanics of Materials, and Petrology. While the classes were demanding, I did not waver from my desire to become a geologist. In fact, these classes only reinforced my passion. At the end of one particularly stressful week, while deep in the trenches of homework, exams, projects, and work I remember needing to relax. With my Petrology midterm project due date looming, on a Friday night I headed to the lab, sat down in front of a petrographic microscope, and immersed myself in examining igneous thin sections. It was my first time sitting in front of a scope by myself. I felt awkward and inept for the first hour, but by the time hour three rolled around I was in control of the instrument. Glancing back and forth between the oculars, my notes, and textbooks I was fluidly naming

minerals, determining modal mineralogy, and identifying the rocks. I didn’t notice the time pass, but I did notice I was significantly less stressed by the time I packed everything up and called it a night.

Reflecting on my semester, I realize this passion for my stud- ies is what carried me through the tough classes. Passion is what allowed me to come out of the rigorous months with a 4.0 GPA and to receive the Geological Engineering Department’s 2017 Mineralogy Award for exceptional coursework. I am blessed to have found my passion at such a young age. I will pursue it as far as possible and take advantage of the opportunities my college degree will offer me. I want to be a geologist to work in a career field which challenges me and excites me to get up each day

Paige LaPlant, SA-9099 University of Northern Iowa

Earth’s Written Record

You know the saying, “Mother knows best?” That’s right, the one that every teenager spends their adolescence try- ing to rebel against. “I’m an adult!” they argue. Meanwhile, bystanders just shake their heads and wait for the day when they will realize that they were anything

but. I was no exception to this rule. All my life, my mom would tell me I was born to be a writer. I loved to read, and I even penned my first book, The Netherstorm, in my early middle school days. So, it all made sense: I would go on to higher education and major in creative writing at an institution one of my favorite authors attended. As years went on, I would begin to challenge this idea of ‘mother knows best.’ Becoming an author did not seem like the path I was destined to follow. I began to reflect on my life and what I was truly passionate about. As it would turn out, my path ended up being a bit rockier, but my mother had actually been right all along.

My love for the earth popped up in subtle ways throughout my life. Besides collecting books, I would also collect rocks and minerals. I was fascinated by the sharp points of crystals like quartz and the vast array of gemstone colors, such as aquamarine and sapphire. This seemed to be a minor hobby until I went on a trip to the Rocky Mountains. This trip hap- pened right around the time I was figuring out what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I found myself wanting to climb up every mountain and pick up every rock. When I finally got the chance to do just that, I began stuffing my bag full of stones that I was proud enough to identify, thanks to my small hobby. On top of that mountain, everything seemed to fall into place and I decided that I would become a geologist, so that I could continue to go on the kinds adventures that I would love to write about.

I chose to pursue degrees in Earth Science and Environmental Science, with minors in Geology and Anthropology, at the University of Northern Iowa. After I earn my Bachelor’s degree, I will head either abroad or out west to pursue graduate school in geological studies. My emphasis will be a combination of volcanology, geoarchaeology, igneous/metamorphic petrol- ogy, and geochemistry. Everyone close to me was initially surprised to see the new direction life took me. As I dive more into my majors, I realize that this was always what I was sup- posed to be doing and that I am still heading down the path that my family predicted.

I view the rock record as a novel. My job, as a geologist, is to read layers upon layers of pages and uncover the truth behind the history of the earth. There are so many charac- ters in this novel that the list is endless: trilobites, crinoids, ammonoids, and even us. Major plot twists have occurred, as is evident in the “Big 5” mass extinctions, which have given rise to new characters and caused the tragic deaths of many others. Environmental factors like volcanism, increasing and decreasing levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide, anoxia, and vegetation changes would become some of the antagonists in these events, hastening the ultimate end for many characters while being vital in the formation of others. What I love most about this story is that I don’t know the ending. New pages are being found and others are being rewritten as new infor- mation comes out. Characters and antagonists continue to be uncovered, showing new ways life survives and competes in the world around us. I want to be a coauthor of this epic biography.

I spent my teen years in a similar way to everyone else. I was by no means rebellious, but I did think I knew where my life was heading and that I had won this battle against my mother. As I grew up and reflected back on my high school years, on the years where I was questioning the idea of becom- ing an author, I often laugh as I realize my mother knew best all along and I am so glad that she did.

AIPG National is proud to announce that we have awarded 19 $1,000 scholarships to undergraduate students pursuing geology degrees and careers. Six were funded by the Foundation of the AIPG, and two were funded by the Alaska section. As part of their schol- arship application, we asked the students to share with us their reasons for wanting to become geologists. We are sharing their essays here.

We also awarded two William Siok gradu- ate scholarships funded by the Foundation of the AIPG to students pursuing their graduate level degrees.

We are so proud of our student members and excited to see what they will bring to the future of the geosciences.

Congratulations students! Jul.Aug.Sep 2018 • TPG 17

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