Environmental science students have new and exciting opportunities to pursue multi-disciplinary areas of research, travel and participation in conferences and other out-of-class learning. These are the types of transformative experiences that stir passion in sophomores Anna McNabb and Lexi Page-Boyd.
Anna and Lexi, both environmental science majors with biology minors, got an opportunity Thursday to thank the donor who has provided funding for these experiences. They spoke about their enthusiasm for their field of study when Heidelberg dedicated the field biology lab in Gillmor Science Hall in honor of Dr. Charles Sherlock McGill.
Dr. McGill was the father of ‘Berg alumnus Charles McGill, who, along with his sister, Charlotte Rodriguez, were on campus for the ceremony.
In honor of his 50th Heidelberg class reunion earlier this year, Charles created an endowment fund for biology and environmental biology. The fund supports student travel to conferences and other career-informative opportunities. Through these opportunities, students learn more about career paths and make critical connections for mentoring, possible internships, jobs or graduate programs.
The gift is already having an impact.
“Being able to travel around the country to go to conferences or shadow people … that’s really, really awesome as we try to figure out our career path,” said Lexi.
Both Lexi and Anna expressed their appreciation for the field biology lab which now bears Dr. McGill’s name. “The tools we have are amazing,” Lexi said. “It’s awesome to be able to hold creatures in our hands and see the physiology.” “It’s great that we can go out and do field work and bring data back and analyze it right here,” Anna added.
The students also recognize the value of connecting with their professors on their research. “Amy (geology professor Dr. Amy Berger) and Mark (Dr, Mark Mitchell, visiting assistant professor of ecology) are so passionate. They are always 100 percent willing to help us out with our research projects,” Anna said.
Out-of-class experiences like those provided by the McGill endowment have the potential to be transformative. “These career and life preparation experiences are extremely valuable,” Amy said. “This is very personal to me, and we are deeply grateful.”
Charles was touched by the students’ enthusiasm. In addition to honoring his father – who entered medical school at age 16 and began a 50-year career in the U.S. and abroad at age 20 – his hope is that current students will consider giving back as well.
“Heidelberg was the right place at the right time for me,” he said. “My experiences here led to many opportunities. You just never know how life goes.”