A series of fortunate events!

Marsha Allen FP’10

Marsha Allen FP’10

Graduate student, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Academic focus: geology major, economics minor

Advanced degrees: M.S. in earth and environmental science, Brooklyn College; pursuing a Ph.D. in hydrogeology at University of Massachusetts Amherst

I entered Mount Holyoke as a Frances Perkins Scholar in 2008 with the intention of majoring in economics. After my first semester, however, I decided to major to geology and minor in economics. I knew I had made the right decision because the subject of geology fascinated me.

I had always loved nature and enjoyed growing my own food, something that was instilled in me at a very young age by my father. Geology became another branch of my fascination with the earth. As an international student, I believed this change would also secure job opportunities in my home country, Trinidad and Tobago.

In my final year at Mount Holyoke, I decided to attempt a senior thesis by analyzing a calcium-aluminum inclusion from the Allende meteorite. The majority of the data was collected at the American Museum of Natural History, in New York City, and the analysis was completed over the following eight months at the Mount Holyoke campus with the aid of my mentors, Steven Dunn, professor of geology and chair of geology and geography, and Harold Connolly, at the American Museum of Natural History in 2009. The result of this project was peer-reviewed and published for the NASA Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in 2010.

My final year at Mount Holyoke changed me. I realized that with hard work and the right support network, I could be a scientist. Since then, I have completed my master’s at Brooklyn College, producing another thesis that analyzed the petrological history of the Chelyabinsk meteorite, and currently, I'm approaching my second year of my Ph.D., specializing in hydrogeology at Umass Amherst.