Teaching earth sciences in a laboratory setting at the University of South Dakota has quickly become a fascinating experience for Jennifer Fierro ’08. The Guilford Geology graduate with a master’s degree in coastal marine and wetland studies from Coastal Carolina University takes great pride in helping her students put a different spin on their understanding of the planet.
“Slowly, the edges of their world are pushed back and they start seeing the earth in a new way,” Jennifer says. “Invariably, at the end of the semester, I have at least one student who comes to me with a story about a trip they took, or somewhere they went, and how they saw the world around them with a deeper level of curiosity and understanding.”
Jennifer’s ability to connect with students is largely a product of the interaction with Guilford’s professors, whom she says were knowledgeable, experienced, and perhaps most importantly—accessible and approachable.
“It was easy to learn from professors there because I felt as if I were on equal footing,” she says. “Being able to draw on such personal experiences has allowed me to be more engaging in the classroom and able to reach different sorts of students.”
Her comfort in the classroom also reflects the breadth of immersive learning experiences at Guilford, including studying abroad on more than one occasion. Beyond that, Jennifer says Guilford left an “indelible mark” on her in the way the college lived out its principles.
“From calling professors by their first names, to commitment to respect and sustainability,” she says, “Guilford showed me that it was possible to live the Quaker principles in a practical way. It helped to serve as a model for me in the way I teach, interact with others, and simply live my life.”