Getting involved with research, community service & more: Meet geology major Abby Watson

Written byElizabeth Rose-Arcuri

“I do feel like I’m getting a more personal education here, especially in the geology program. Our professors know us all personally by name. I really feel at home with them.”

Geology major Abby Watson takes notes in the field during a geology trip
Abby Watson
Madisonville, La.

Where I'm From

I grew up with three siblings, and we all came to UL Lafayette for college. 

Where I Am

I’m a geology major, and I love our close-knit and supportive department.

Where I'm Going

I’m going to come back to UL Lafayette and get my master’s degree in geology after I graduate.

Abby Watson knew she wanted to study geology at UL Lafayette after she visited Hamilton Hall on campus.

“I saw all the cases of minerals around the building, and I was like, ‘Oh my God, I get to learn all of this,’” she said. “I was drawn to looking at all the beautiful minerals they have on display, and was like, ‘One day I will know exactly what that is’ — and I do now, which is really awesome.”

Getting hands-on experience in geology

As a geology major, Abby gets hands-on experiences in her classes, thanks to partnerships and experiences that take her into the field.

U L Lafayette geology major Abby Watson on a field camp experience in Big Bend National Park

Researching at the Geology Museum

Through the School of Geosciences, Abby volunteers once a week with her classmates at the Geology Museum, which is inside the Lafayette Science Museum in downtown Lafayette. She learned about the opportunity from her advisor.

As a volunteer, she looks for fossils in the Geology Museum’s lab under the direction of Dr. James Martin.

“Whatever we find, we show Dr. Martin, and he’s like, ‘This is the jawbone of this kind of fish,’” Abby said. “And I’m just shocked, because this is a million-year-old fossil — how do you know that? He’s a genius.

"It gets you experience and gets you involved.”

Traveling across the U.S. for Field Camp

All geology majors at UL Lafayette are required to take the six-week Field Camp course over one summer — an experience Abby is really looking forward to.

“It's six weeks of road tripping around the country, setting up a tent and looking at rock formations,” she said. “I’m so excited, especially since I’m going to do it with that same group of people I’ve been with through the program.”

Finding opportunities to get involved

Abby found the best way to get the most out of her education at UL Lafayette was to become involved, starting with SOUL Camp before her first semester.

“SOUL Camp is the perfect way for any freshman, especially anyone nervous about starting college, to get acquainted with the University,” she said.

“You meet so many people, so you start off with friends instead of starting college alone. It was a really fun camp, and I really enjoyed meeting all those different people.”

Taking that first step to get involved has led to other opportunities for Abby outside her major, too. She does community service every year with The Big Event and has been a member of multiple choral groups on campus.

“Being in a choir really helps with public speaking and public confidence,” she said. “Other than that, I really love to sing, and everyone is so talented. To look back at a performance and realize I did that, even though it’s not my major and it was a really hard piece — it’s really rewarding.”

A close-knit campus

Abby’s favorite part about UL Lafayette, though, has been the friends she’s made through the geology major and in other groups on campus.

Living on campus her first year let her meet more people and experience more of the University than she expected.

She loved living on a campus with beautiful oak trees and plants — plus, “Nothing is more than 20 minutes away. It’s the perfect size for a university to be.”

And living on campus helped her make friends more easily.

“One of the best parts about living on campus was that I met my roommate and suitemates, and they’re really the best,” she said. “We got along so well that I still see them all the time now.”

She’s also become close with her classmates and professors in the geology program.

“I do feel like I’m getting a more personal education here, especially in the geology program,” she said. “I have classes with the same people and our professors know us all personally by name — and even know our family members now. I really feel at home with them because I get to see them over and over again, I know how they teach, I know who they are, and I know their personalities.”

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