Innovative Hands-On Training — At Home and Abroad
By Erica Loza
I didn't really know what I wanted to do when I started college at California State University, Northridge. I remained “undeclared” in the first year and finished all of my general education classes.
I was always environmentally friendly, but I thought of it as a hobby. It wasn’t until my sophomore year that I took a geology class and realized that my hobby could be my career. I declared geology as my major because I was curious and wanted to know more about the earth. After taking a full semester with only geology classes, I confirmed that geology was exactly what I wanted to do.
A professor had announced available internships with Blueprint Earth, and I applied and was accepted as a volunteer. The first time I was out in the desert I was both nervous and excited. I had a taste of what it really is like to be in the field and what it takes to be a geologist. I gained insights and tips on doing research and taking good notes. Coming back from that first trip made me realize that I wanted to do more of it.
I started looking for internships and another professor told me about AfricaArray, which grew out of a partnership between the University of the Witwatersrand, the Council for Geoscience, and Pennsylvania State University. They offer a summer field program designed to train students to become better geoscientists and researchers in South Africa. I applied in early January and fortunately had everything they required: two letters of recommendation, a curriculum vitae, an official college transcript, and a personal statement.
I turned in my application despite thinking that it was likely that I wouldn't be accepted. I had forgotten about it until I received my “Congratulations, you’re going to Africa” email.
When I think of people at Penn State reviewing my application and deciding that I am worthy of participating in this competitive program, I believe that part of my acceptance can be attributed to my experience with BE.
I am grateful to Blueprint Earth for giving me a wonderful opportunity to explore, learn, and pursue my interests. My field experience in the Mojave Desert has enabled me to open more doors for my career. Let the adventure continue!
Read more about Erica's Blueprint Earth experience in Five-Minute Field Notes: January Volunteers.