Why should you major in Geology at UA?
Hello! My name is Jamekia Durrough-Pritchard, and I was, and still am, a proud Geology major at UA. When I began my undergraduate degree, I started off as a Journalism major and toyed with the idea of eventually going into broadcast meteorology. However, I wasn’t really sure if that was where I wanted to go in my career.
In my first semester of sophomore year, I took GEO 101 and within 2-3 lectures, I was sold on switching to a geology major! Once I switched, I devised a course plan with my then advisor, Dr. Fred Andrus, who was a major source of encouragement throughout my undergraduate career. Pursuing a geology degree challenged me as a student and allowed me to explore my passion for science.
What’s it like being a Geology major?
Most people who hear that you’re a geology major automatically think that you do nothing but look at rocks or are dead-set on pursuing a career in the petroleum industry. However, in taking those introductory courses, I saw the many different paths you could take as a geologist that are not just related to rocks and oil. The other core geology courses (mineralogy, petrology, sedimentology, and structural geology) are definitely challenging, but the classes are very interesting, hands-on, and make you well-rounded as a future geologist.
To cap all of your knowledge gained from these classes, there is a 6-week field course to northern New Mexico and southern Colorado that allows you to apply what you’ve learned to create maps and to identify rocks and geologic structures in the field. In all honesty, I worked very hard those 6 weeks, but the experience of being in the field and building relationships with colleagues and professors who have mentored me provided many memories that will last for a lifetime.
What can you do with this degree?
Of course, mineral exploration and petroleum careers are top options in Geology, but you can also pursue careers in water science, paleontology, environmental consulting, teaching, and even law school.
Personally, the opportunities I have gained from this degree are just amazing! As an undergraduate, I was an intern for the Geological Survey of Alabama’s (GSA) Energy Investigations Program. While there, I gained useful graphic design skills and was even part of a publication for a shale research project. I also worked as an undergraduate research assistant with Dr. Geoff Tick on a groundwater remediation project.
Upon graduating, I was hired on at the GSA as a hydrogeologist for the Groundwater Assessment Program, where I conducted various water quantity and quality field studies for the entire state of Alabama. I did, however, eventually come back to UA to pursue a master’s degree in geology, and I hope to finish by spring or summer 2020.
Was it worth it?
100% yes, it was worth it. From the mentors and friendships I’ve gained, I cannot imagine where I would be without majoring in Geology at UA. The growth I’ve had from the moment I arrived on campus (even though I was a completely different major) to now has been exponential. The academic pursuit of geology has improved my capabilities as a student, matured me as a person, and presented me with many opportunities I never knew I could achieve.