“You’re not just memorizing, you’re problem-solving. Because of that, Allegheny is challenging in a good way – it pushes you to do your best.”
— Erin Birsic
From conducting laboratory research in Taiwan to doing fieldwork in Alaska, Erin Birsic’s academic path as a Geology major has taken her from inside the classroom to around the globe. In cooperation with Allegheny professor Dr. Ron Cole and the National Science Foundation, Erin has spent two consecutive summers studying granitic bodies in the Northern Talkeetna Mountains as part of her senior project. This research also gave her the exciting opportunities of traveling to Taipei to study at the National Taiwan University and presenting her findings at multiple Geological Society of America conferences within the United States. According to Erin, these experiences have been in the making for quite some time.
“I’ve been interested in geology ever since my 8th grade science class,” Erin claims. “My sister is also an Allegheny alumna, so every time I would visit her I would stop by the science departments and meet the faculty. I was lucky enough to have early experience with both Allegheny and the Geology department.”
Erin has also taken various class trips through the Geology department to places such as the Florida Keys, West Virginia, Virginia, and Presque Isle. But perhaps one of her most memorable experiences was participating in an Experiential Learning Seminar that studied a combination of geology, philosophy, and religion.
“Traveling to Turkey, which straddles Western and Middle Eastern culture was a truly eye-opening experience,” Erin says. “The course was able to link geology with religious studies and philosophy in the most unique way, broadening my horizons and giving a new meaning to traveling. The seminar introduced me to different religions, new friends, and a different outlook on how one should travel and experience the world.”
When she’s not traveling the globe, Erin is extremely active in various groups on Allegheny’s campus. A dancer since the age of three, Erin is a dedicated Dance and Movement Studies minor who has participated in Orchesis and JaDE. She is also a member of the Geology Club and plays flute in the Wind Symphony and Wind Ensemble. Erin also prides herself on being President of Growing Hearts, Growing Minds, a non-profit student group her sister started during her time at Allegheny that raises money for Baste, a village in India. The group has donated $13,000 worth of supplies such as food, clean water, medicine, and school necessities since 2009.
After graduation, Erin plans to work towards her Masters degree and Ph.D. before pursuing a career either as a university professor or Geological Studies researcher. She credits her success to Allegheny’s academic atmosphere.
“As a student, you find ways to adapt to what you’re learning,” says Erin. “You’re not just memorizing, you’re problem-solving. Because of that, Allegheny is challenging in a good way – it pushes you to do your best.”