Paper No. 154-9
Presentation Time: 4:00 PM
FORGING PROFESSIONAL NETWORKS: OVER TWO DECADES OF INFLUENCE FROM DR. HEATHER MACDONALD
A major theme for our Supporting and Advancing Geoscience Education at 2-Year College (SAGE2YC) team was to build a vibrant network of geoscientists throughout Virginia. We facilitated frequent and regular professional development opportunities for faculty and fostered close collaboration between students and research scientists. Another offshoot of this effort was implementing a career-mentoring workshop that drew from across the state students, faculty, and professional geoscientists together at an annual field conference. The Virginia Geological Field Conference (VGFC) provided the structure for professionals to share with students details about their jobs and career paths, faculty to learn directly from employers about skills and topics that best prepare students for the workforce, and students with the opportunity to learn about various careers in the geosciences, develop robust resumes, and to form meaningful mentoring/professional relationships. Feedback from all participants (students, faculty, and professional mentors alike) underscored the importance of establishing strong connections between academia and the workforce. This format facilitated addressing other factors that support student success, including developing a science and professional identity, revealing clearer connections between course content and practical applications, and elucidating potential careers and pathways in the geosciences.
These efforts were a natural extension of topics gleaned from our participation in the SAGE2YC program, broadly, and specifically from close interactions with Dr. Heather MacDonald. Dr. MacDonald’s influence began for two of us as undergraduate students, where she modeled best-practices in her classes, and extended to numerous meaningful professional development opportunities that filled a void in the two-year college community. Our careers have been richly supported by Dr. MacDonald’s influence and to date thousands of students have benefited.