For the News Tribune
KEYSER - Many students begin their college journey immediately after graduating from high school while others choose to start a family or just take time off; however, Brooke Devlin, a recent graduate of West Virginia University Potomac State College, chose to take a different path.
Devlin originally took the traditional path by enrolling in a college near her hometown after graduating high school, with hopes of obtaining a nursing degree with a specialization in pediatrics, but soon left disillusioned and unsure of her future.
"I quickly realized I was not pursuing a career I was passionate about and I was unsure what to study. I didn’t have the luxury of continuing college without a definite career goal, so I took time away from school while I figured it out," Devlin said.
She spent the next few years working as a server in a local restaurant where she met Tom Sydow, who serves as an English professor at Potomac State College.
During one of their conversations, Devlin expressed that she was still seeking direction in her life, and though she was unsure about her major, she was certain that going back to college was the right choice for her.
"After several discussions at the restaurant regarding Brooke’s future plans, I was pleased to find her standing at my office door one afternoon as she excitedly told me that she’d decided to finish what she started several years ago and would be attending Potomac State College," Sydow said.
"PSC made sense for me in so many ways – my family was close by, I was working in the area and I wanted a WVU education," Devlin added.
Growing up in the Appalachian Mountains of Western Maryland, Devlin always felt a connection to the outdoors and nature, which inspired her to ask Sydow about his travels to Yosemite National Park.
"Once I heard Professor Sydow describing his regular hikes through Yosemite National Park, I knew this was a place I wanted to see, so I visited Yosemite while on vacation. It became my "ah-ha" moment when I was surrounded by the beautiful geology of the valley and igneous rocks carved by ancient glacial activity that left marvelous features like Half Dome," Devlin said, adding, "The trip to Yosemite solidified my decision to pursue a career in geology."
"As an educator, it’s always gratifying to see this sort of epiphany visited upon a student," Sydow said. "Once Brooke realized what she wanted to do, she was hungry for the knowledge that would get her there. And now that she’s completed her studies at Potomac State, I know that Brooke is not only well-prepared for the challenges that await her at WVU Morgantown, but she will also excel in her new field of study."
When asked about her future goals, Devlin stated that she wants a career which enables her to help the environment, specifically the Appalachian Mountains.
"I’m currently working as a student-geologist with the Natural Resources Conservation Service in the U.S. Department of Agriculture conducting geologic investigations. Because professors at PSC have encouraged me and given me the confidence to continue moving forward, I now foresee a rewarding career in a field I’m truly excited about," she said.