The following guest post is but one example of how the mineral museum in Phoenix influenced the careers of many engineers and scientists:
I have always had a love of science and rocks. Rarely did a family vacation go by when I did not bring home different stones from other states and eventually, was told anything I wanted to bring home was limited to what I could fit in a shoebox. After taking an earth science class in high school, I was hooked and decided that I wanted to become a geologist, and attended college after graduation to do so.
Even though I had done well in high school, it was a very small school, and it didn’t prepare me for rigors of college life. As such, I did not do well, and was put on academic probation. My family moved to Arizona around the same time, so I just gave up on the possibility of a career as a geologist. To have to attempt the trials of trigonometry and calculus, the workings of atoms in chemistry and the looming knowledge of previous failures kept me from pursuing my goal.
Many years later, I got my courage up and completed a bachelor’s degree in business. Having some faith in myself, I decided to obtain a degree in accounting and a Masters in finance, and did so with honors. No scary math or chemistry there, yet, something in my life was missing. My mom would hint about finishing my geology degree, and somehow the time was never right. Suddenly, she was diagnosed with lymphoma, and was moved to hospice. In her last days, as she was telling me how she wanted her personal items shared with friends and family, she told me the most special thing I could do for her was to complete the degree – it dawned on me this was the one thing she had been waiting for me to do over the past thirty years.
So my journey had begun. Although I wanted to jump in and get all the geology classes done, I knew that for me to see this thing through, I had to complete all the other classes first. Otherwise, I would not see the process through. There were a few online geology courses offered online through ASU as well as online Spanish, which were requirements for my degree. I decided I would attack my Trigonometry, Calculus and Chemistry requirements one class per term at GCC, and complete one online class per term at ASU and continue to work full-time. The next three years, it seemed that every consuming moment I had was involved in studying, yet I persevered, and earned A’s and B’s in every class taken.
This whole process would have been made so much harder if the Arizona Mining and Mineral Museum had not been around. There, I found many mentors who were able to answer questions, see actual specimens and purchase tools of the trade such as equipment and guide books. Now that it is gone, I feel that there are future scientists that have had a resource stripped from them and there is nothing in the Valley that has the knowledge base or displays to replace it.
So here I am today. I am very fortunate to have the support of friends, family and a very understanding boss. All the remaining classes I have are geology related and must be taken at ASU’s Tempe location. My supervisor is allowing me to come to work and put in a few hours, jump on light rail, take a class, and return to work to complete my day. He understands that I am good in accounting, but that is not my passion, and though I enjoy what I do, I do not love what I do. My true passion relates to the scientific world and geology, and he wants me to be happy in life, and is helping me reach my goal. I hope to be able to finish this degree and be able to share my passion with others. If I had any advice to offer people, it would be it is never too late to learn, and don’t pick a career based on money – base it on what you love to do.