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Kelsey Tucker, SA-8647 University of Anchorage Alaska

My interest in natural history began at a young age. As a child, I would dig small holes in my backyard (much to the annoyance of my parents) to find large cobbles and try to crack them open with my Dad’s hammer. I lived in the Chicago suburbs and didn’t have a lot of exposure to outcrops or geology in general. When

I was in the third grade, a classmate’s father (who was a geologist) came in to give my class a short talk on geology and natural history. I brought the rocks I had dug up from my backyard into class to ask him about them and whether they were anything significant or special. I was shocked when he told me that they were coral fossils and that at one point a long time ago a large ocean covered the American Midwest. The discovery that the area I lived in could at one point look so drastically different sparked my interest in geology and my desire to learn how rocks record the history of the earth.

Throughout my life, I have enjoyed solving puzzles and tell- ing stories. In college, I decided to study archaeology because I could dig up an area and reconstruct a cultural narrative from the artifacts and features I found there. I wanted to study lithics or stone tools because I was interested in the rock material that stone tools were made from and what the location or source of the rock material could determine about trade and other cultural relations. But as my archaeological education progressed, I grew dissatisfied with the field. I found a lot of archaeology to be too qualitative in nature and in my opinion many hypotheses could not be adequately tested or determined. Discussions arguing about archaeological theory or possible religious associations of ancient peoples did not engage me like my fellow archaeology students. My interest in archaeology began to fade and my geological curiosity began to grow at an accelerated rate.

Taking structural geology was an eye-opening experience. I was excited to find that, as with archaeology, I could recon- struct a story from the surrounding environment. I discovered geology as a field was more to my liking. With geology, you could use hard data, data that was testable and results reproducible. After graduating from the University of Illinois, I worked as an archaeologist for several field seasons but when a job with the Alaska Department of Natural Resources, Division of Oil and Gas opened, I applied in a heartbeat. As I began to work with exploratory geologic well and seismic data, I became interested in interpreting the data and creating a story from it. I knew that to create the level of interpretation that I was interested in, I needed geological training and so I returned to school and began taking undergraduate geology classes at the University of Alaska Anchorage.

As I studied geology and worked in the petroleum industry, I looked around at my fellow geologists, students and profes- sionals alike. Almost every geologist that I worked or studied with was in love with the field. I discovered that like myself, geologists are naturally curious and enjoy being challenged. In the field of geology, you are constantly learning something new and challenging your assumptions. The field was perfect for me. The other thrilling aspect of geology is that you can travel! As a geologist, your geologic knowledge is enhanced by the amount of rocks and outcrops you see and experience. The realization that I could do geology, get paid for it, and travel the world made the decision to become a professional geologist a no-brainer. I have never once regretted returning to school and investing a significant amount of my time and financial resources in my geologic education. These two years returning to school and working full time have been stressful yet exhilarating. I have become passionate about geology in the way that I never was about archaeology. I am incredibly excited to attend graduate school in geology next fall and look forward to entering the workforce as an official geologist.

Shirley Mensah, SA-7566 Northern Illinois University

In high school, I was not certain of the major I wanted to pursue in college. I just knew that whatever career path I took, I wanted it to be worth fighting for— impactful and beneficial to every- one around me. Quite suddenly, oil was discovered in my country (Ghana). This was both a blessing and a challenge to the country. We had oil, but no knowledge of

how to engage in drilling and exploration activities. Therefore, government regularly employed people from other countries. The foreigners got a bigger percentage of profits gained from the oil business than my people got.

Ghana, as a developing country, needs all the resources it can find in its land to improve the standard of living of its inhabitants. Hence giving away a substantial amount of rev- enue gained from oil to outsiders, as remuneration for their work, stagnates the country’s development. To address this challenge, the youth of the country has flooded into universi- ties, desperately seeking training in petroleum geology. I am one of these youth, now a junior pursuing her degree at Eastern Illinois University. I decided to study abroad in the US because

I knew I would gain an exceptional, world class education, and return home able to really give back to my country.

That is why I want to be a geologist, specifically a petro- leum geologist. There is a direct correlation between the petroleum industry and various sectors of the economy. When the oil industry flourishes, profits gained from it can be used to improve infrastructure, services, and trade. Ghana has a high rate of death from vehicular accidents due to the poor condition of roads and lack of major roads to connect states within the country; the airport requires extensive renovation and enlargement.

Sanitation is also a big issue, and there are a lot of places known for poor non-hygienic conditions. These contribute to a lot of health issues, and this, combined with transportation problems, has a negative effect on both tourism and trade. Also contributing to Ghana’s high rate of importation of foreign goods and low, low rate of exportation of goods is the fact that we cannot produce plastics without the petroleum industry. Producing plastics would cut down our need for imports. This would also aid our health care sector, which lacks essential equipment and materials.

I believe when all these areas are addressed, the economy of Ghana will be boosted, and the lives of inhabitants will be improved. I want to contribute to this effort however I might, through the practice of my profession as a petroleum geologist.

Jul.Aug.Sep 2018 • TPG 21

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