I wrote my final exam yesterday and a day later I’m still experiencing the euphoria that the exams for term one are over. It is now December 23, 2011 and not only did I make it through my first four months at the University of Waterloo, I made it through successfully. Make no mistake about it; this success did not come easily. It took a great deal of hard work that included studying late into many nights - despite the fact that I felt I was more prepared than most on what to expect during the first term. Having said this, the last four months, although gruelling at times, have also been among some of the most rewarding and best times of my life.
It was just over a year ago when I received the coveted early acceptance letter that offered me the program that I wanted to study at my first choice university and I was elated. The main reason for wanting to attend the University of Waterloo was a combination of the excellent reputation the Earth Science department held and the University of Waterloo’s strong co-op program. The ability to earn my degree while gaining related work experience and earn money to pay for part of my education seemed like an invaluable asset that could not be overlooked. My primary motivation to pursue Earth Sciences as a field of study and to specialize in Geology, which can also lead to being APGO (Association of Professional Geoscientists of Ontario) certified, was simply because I enjoy the outdoors, particularly remote locations, and in general, the Earth Sciences field fulfills this requirement. In particular, entry level positions often involve trips into the field for days, weeks or months at a time with a team of geologists to map the lithosphere and gather samples to be later analyzed by senior staff members. This career appeared to fit in perfectly with my interests because I love backpacking, climbing, canoeing, swimming, and skiing. Since I was young, my parents always took my brother and I on adventurous vacations such hiking in Banff, horseback riding over mountain passes in Jasper, backcountry canoeing in Killarney, snorkelling in Belize, or just getting us out of bed in the middle of the night in Costa Rica to watch Arenal Volcano erupt. If I had any doubt that a career requiring extended stays in remote locations might not be for me – my three week backpacking trip this past summer in the Canadian Rockies confirmed that I was definitely on the right track. I also learned, while attending a science information session at the University of Waterloo’s Annual Fall Open House, that although Canada’s mineral industry is one of the largest in the world, certified geoscientists are in high demand because relatively few young people choose to pursue an education in Earth Science due in large part to the fact that they are rarely exposed to this subject in high school. As a result, qualified geologists are in high demand and as economics would have it, their salary reflects this demand. I attended many university open houses with my parents while in grades 11 and 12 and each time we left Waterloo it was the Earth Sciences students as well as the professors that got me excited about this program. It was their genuine enthusiasm and their willingness to talk in depth about their passion, experiences and travels that also intrigued me during the early stages of my career search. For all these reasons I knew that the Earth Sciences co-op program at the University of Waterloo was right for me and my future.