Environmental Science: Picture standing in the middle of a wetland holding snails and soil!

Environmental Science students tend to spend a lot of time doing hands-on experiments on and off the field!

By Sammy Holcombe

When I was a kid, I wanted to be Indiana Jones. I wanted to have these crazy adventures, meet people all over the world, and most importantly, I wanted to work with artifacts and unlock clues to human history. I grew up watching these adventure movies, dreaming of becoming Indiana. When I was in high school, I was a history buff and planned on going to college for archeology. I was completely in love with the subject, but the school that I really wanted to go to, Virginia Tech, didn’t have an archeology major. I was crushed. You see, whenever I visited Tech, I felt at home. My older brother went there for electrical engineering, so every time I was in Blacksburg, Virginia, I felt safe and securely in the right place. There was no doubt in mind that this is where I wanted to go. But since Virginia Tech didn’t have the major I was looking for, I started to question what I truly wanted to do.

By this point, I felt lost and confused about what I wanted to do. Should I pursue a career that I’ve always wanted to have, or should I find a different major and go to a school that I felt was home? One night, when discussing this with my dad, he mentioned one of my other passions: saving the environment. That’s when it clicked. I chose to apply to Virginia Tech and to pursue Environmental Science. Since then, I have been truly grateful for that decision.

Almost four years later, I am still studying Environmental Science with a minor in Green Engineering, and I’m graduating in the spring! I’m super excited to get out into the ‘real world,’ but also terrified! I have no idea what will happen in my life after I receive my diploma. But that’s okay! I can’t stress that enough. Students now are so stressed in high school because they feel they have to decide on their career before they even get a glimpse of what their field will be like. But the truth is, it’s perfectly fine not to know. Many of my friends have changed their majors countless of times, and some of them switched their entire course of study a year before graduation because they learned that they weren’t happy with their major. I was just lucky to find a major that I was interested in. Now it is my passion.

Throughout the coming posts on this blog, I will share how awesome Environmental Science is. Expect to see parts of my journey, including internships and work experience. They taught me what I do – and don’t! – want to pursue as part of my next step after graduation.

I’ve learned a lot about my field of study since I started my journey at Virginia Tech. Of course, you are bound to have some ups and downs, but overall, my time here has been inspiring. I’m taking classes that push me outside of my comfort zone, and I’m working in a lab studying plants. One thing that has surprised me about my classes, which also gets me out of my comfort zone, is that Environmental Science students tend to spend a lot of time doing hands-on experiments, on and off the field. We take numerous field trips for multiple classes and labs that encourage us to really think. For example, I am taking a wetland soils class where we go hiking in various areas to find wetlands and take soil samples. Four years ago, I never thought I would be standing out in the middle of a wetland with water going up to my knees covered in mud, holding snails and soil! Honestly, no matter what field you decide to go into, you’ll have to step out of your boundaries from time to time. But when you do, you’ll experience incredible things if you breathe deep and take a leap of faith.

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