My Experience in Science and Global Change
Being in the Science and Global Change Scholars program has not only increased my knowledge and appreciation of the importance of our changing planet, but has been an influence in my decision to change my major from general Biology to Environmental Science. I started out with a very elementary idea of what I wanted to do with my life. I thought, "I like animals, so I want to be around them all the time." Once I realized that my interest was not really in the workings of animals, but more in making an effort to conserve them, I also realized that there was much more involved in what I actually wanted to do. I realized that I was interested in human interactions with various aspects of our planet - not just cute animals. Science and Global Change has given me the best overview of exactly what I wanted to know - anthropological effects on our planet and the science involved with those effects.
The field trips and projects were specifically effective in conveying the message of Science and Global Change - the Science of Nature and the Nature of Science. Although I enjoyed the lectures and readings, active learning is such a great experience for me, and I end up getting a lot out of it. When I can see things and experience things for myself, as well as have the opportunity to write about them through papers and projects, I become more immersed in the subject, and find myself sometimes even doing extra research.
I really enjoyed the field trip to the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC) from Fall semester of 2009. That was definitely my favorite Scholars experience. I learned so much about the dangers that the Chesapeake Bay is currently facing, as well as some preventative measures that should be taken. I love being outdoors, so the canoeing and wading into the water to look at organisms was perfect for me. It gave me an insight into some of the careers I may potentially want to have after I graduate.
The field trip to the Horn Point Lab and Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge in Spring 2010 was also extremely interesting for me. The goals of both of these institutions are to protect the Chesapeake Bay, similar to SERC. I loved this field trip for the same reasons that I loved the trip to SERC. The outdoor component was awesome for me, as well as the content presented. In fact, because of these two field trips, my concentration within my Environmental Science major is Marine and Coastal Management. I learned so much about the importance of the Chesapeake Bay and what its destruction means for humans. Both trips also presented to me the types of work that I will most likely become involved with, and the prospects couldn't be better for me. Without these field trips, I would never have gotten any exposure to these types of careers - no other program or class has offered this type of experience to me so far.
The Wiki/Powerpoint project is the final most influential part of the Science and Global Change program for me. It was the first time that I had been asked to research solutions to the rising global, environmental problems that are developing. Although I generally don't do well with group projects, I really enjoyed researching this subject. I don't think it would have mattered which topic my group would have chosen, they all were of equal interest to me. I enjoyed presenting my findings and being able to feel like I really understood what I had researched. It was a rewarding experience that influenced me even further in recognizing what I want to do in terms of my future career. The more I learn, the more my interests expand.
The supplementary courses have also been really interesting for me. Although they overlap with both the Biology and Environmental Science majors, I have really enjoyed my courses.
I really loved BSCI105 with Dr. Jensen (Fall 2009). It was the first biology course I've taken that not only concentrated on biology at a cellular level, but also on organismal and evolutionary trends. I had never been exposed to this type of subject matter, but it allowed me to better understand the relationship between organisms and our changing world. I also was able to recognize the value of every organism and the role that each of them plays within different systems.
My experience in AOSC200 with Dr. Hudson (Fall 2010) has been surprisingly positive for me. I had never been that interested in meteorology, but this class has ended up being my favorite this semester. It has given me a really great introduction to weather and climate. I have been able to make many connections between this course and others (like SGC), making me understand why comprehension of this subject matter is so important. With my new basic knowledge of weather and climate, I now understand how anthropogenic factors influence weather and climate and some of the steps that need to be taken to change this trend.
The living-learning community component of the Scholars program was also a really great experience. I wouldn't say that the set up really aided in learning, except that we were able to help each other with only a few assignments, like setting up the websites, but it helped me make friends within the first couple weeks of being at UMD. It provided us with a shared experience that enabled us to relate to each other better. People have been able to maintain friendships, which I think is really great.
Now that my time in Scholars is coming to a close, I do feel like I should have become more involved, by joining a committee for example, but I do feel like I have been an active participant. I have tried to get the most out of the experience in terms of academics. In addition, I joined the Lakeland STARS program, which I plan on continuing until I graduate. That program has become a huge part of my life here at UMD and I hope to only become more involved in it. The way that it allows elementary school students to become more exposed to college life is such a unique opportunity for them. The tutees that I have had have expressed a greater interest in attending college because of their participation in Lakeland STARS, and I'm glad that I have been able to be a part of it.
The Science and Global Change Scholars Program has challenged my assumptions about fairly recent popular topics, like global warming. I had never realized how great of an issue it really is or how much of an impact humans are making on our planet. Because of this program, I don't feel like such a know-it-all about global change. Instead, I feel encouraged to learn more about it and apply my knowledge in a practical way - by making personal changes as well as dedicating my career to finding solutions.
As I have stated in most of the paragraphs above, SGC has definitely impacted the way I'm planning my future. Because of the program, I have changed my major which will definitely influence the courses I take during my junior and senior year. I will also put more of an emphasis on my involvement in activities on campus that involve a search for solutions. In terms of my career, the field trips definitely exposed me interesting jobs. My choice in practicum project (intern at the Freshwater Institute) will also provide me with a great experience that I can thank Scholars for as well.