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Amanda Tomlinson conducting research
January 9, 2020

Reaching for the stars with feet firmly on the ground

Amanda Tomlinson ’20 has packed a lot into her college career—scientifically and artistically. She is majoring in environmental science with a geology concentration and minors in chemistry and dance. Amanda has tackled all sorts of challenges, from a teaching assistantship in the geology department to an internship with the NASA DEVELOP program, where she worked on a 10-week feasibility project.

“We used NASA satellite data to help develop a model that could monitor and eventually predict drought for the National Drought Management Authority, an agency of the Kenyan government,” Amanda says. “I got to travel to Washington, D.C., to present my research at NASA Headquarters.” After graduation, she now has plans to earn a master’s degree in geology, with a focus on climatology.

But when she first arrived at Berry, Amanda didn’t have a firm career direction until she connected with Associate Professor of Geology Tamie Jovanelly. “When I was unsure of what I wanted to do, Dr. Jovanelly immediately took me under her wing to help me discover my passions and what I wanted to pursue,” she says.

Amanda relished her role as a teaching assistant on a study abroad trip to Iceland. “Dr. Jovanelly has been there almost every year since 2006 and is writing an advanced textbook about its geology,” she explains. “I got to experience an entirely new culture while learning about the geology of the country, all while getting paid to be a teaching assistant.”

While working for Dr. Jovanelly at Berry, Amanda found her calling: “I have loved getting to help Dr. Jovanelly in labs and holding review sessions for students. Sharing my love for geology by helping others understand it has pushed me to wanting a career in which I can work with and educate others.”

Working as a research supervisor taught Amanda the value of fieldwork and patience. She also learned that she does not want a career sitting behind a desk. Along with rigorous academic studies, Amanda found fulfillment and broadened her skills as the manager for the Berry College Dance Company. “Working for the dance program has given me the opportunity to combine a lifelong passion for dance with a job that has given me skills in company management, event planning and PR,” she says.

Amanda describes her Berry experience as life changing, especially under the mentorship of Dr. Jovanelly: “She has been an advisor who has helped me discover potential career paths, a boss who has given me jobs that have helped me develop vital skill sets that will help me in the future and an unfailing supporter who is always there to give me a nudge forward when needed.”

For now, Amanda is keeping her options open as far as her future after graduate school. “If I enjoy that, I might continue on to pursue my Ph.D. so that I can teach geology on a collegiate level. If that doesn't work out, the ultimate dream job is to be an environmental scientist or geologist for NASA.” 

As Amanda finishes her last semester at Berry, she has a few parting thoughts: “If I could tell future Berry students one thing, it would be to take advantage of every opportunity given to you, personally and academically. Say ‘yes’ as many times as you can, even if it’s something you're unsure about. The best memories and adventures can come when you least expect it.” 

staff writer

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