Melinda Catherine Higley '00
WHY DID YOU CHOOSE YOUR MAJOR?
There were many steps in my life that led me to geology. Sparing the details, I loved earth science in high school and as I became more involved I found that our lives are inseparable from the processes that daily create the surface we live on. I wanted to understand those processes as much as possible.
MEMORIES OF CALVIN
When I think of Calvin, the computer lab and the coffee kitchen in the GEO department come to mind. Thought provoking discussions happened there, and also a lot of silliness. The campus is beautiful any time of the year and I really miss walking from building to building. I was also in Capella (a choir) which was the experience of a lifetime. AND there was a particular August evening when the fields behind the Prince were literally glittering with a million fireflies.
WHAT AT CALVIN PREPARED YOU FOR YOUR CAREER?
My classes and interactions a Calvin helped me develop a sense of finding joy in all things. It was so cool to take a variety of humanities classes to supplement my major and I left feeling like I received a very well-rounded education, including things I never thought I would appreciate.
The GEO department was fastidious about the practice of public speaking. This has helped me more than anything else as public speaking is such an important part of the scientific community. I was able to figure out what parts of geology I was most interested which helped me make easy decisions about grad school. Most of all, classes at Calvin taught me how to learn and think critically, which will enable to do anything in future!
LIFE AFTER CALVIN
Melinda received her M.S. in Geology from the University of Toledo in 2009.
" I worked at the Illinois State Geological Survey in Champaign, IL from 2009 through 2014 as a hydrogeologist. During that time I studied the wetland hydrology of wetland mitigation sites, and I collected and analysed water quality data for Chicago Tollway Authority."
WHAT ARE YOU DOING NOW?
Currently I am pursing a PhD in geology (paleoclimate) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. My study is searching for a tropical Pacific climate record in the lake sediments of Christmas Island, Kiribati. I completed some field work on Christmas Island during July 2014 and had an incredible experience visiting there.
ADVICE TO CURRENT STUDENTS
Keep an open mind towards opportunities: allow yourself to take on something that is over your head.
"It's always better to know more rather than less, even when knowledge complicates your life" ~Michael Pollan