Geology graduates a first for Wayland 

December 2, 2010

PLAINVIEW – In order to finally reach graduation, Aaron Anderson had to get his hands dirty – literally. But after several years of digging into Wayland’s geology curriculum, he and classmate Hailey Clark will walk across the stage on Saturday, Dec. 11, and receive their diplomas as Wayland Baptist University’s first graduates with degrees in geology.

been four and a half years of discovery for Anderson who graduated from Tulia High School in 2006. At the time, he was unsure of where his college education would lead. A high school athlete, Anderson had looked into the possibility of playing football for some schools, but the thought didn’t really appeal to him. 

“I was kind of looking for a change of atmosphere. I was tired of athletics,” Anderson said.

Growing up in Tulia, Anderson was familiar with Wayland as he would always see the signs along the highway and swear to himself that he would never attend Wayland. Things changed, however, as the influence of WBU grads Jennifer and Michael Beal through his church and several friends who were thinking of attending Wayland laid the groundwork for him to make the 20-mile move to attend the university in his own back yard. It was a move he is glad he made.

“Wayland is really a perfect fit for me,” Anderson said. “Everybody knows everybody and I just really like how friendly the campus is, and the personal time you can spend with professors.”

Anderson was heavily involved in the sciences as he coupled his geology degree with a minor in Chemistry. He not only got to know his professor on a professional level, but on a personal level as well.

I play basketball with Dr. (David) Schmidt. Dr. (Tim) Walsh and I have been out to eat lots of times, and I have Bible study at Dr. (Robert) Moore’s house,” Anderson said. “At other universities, you don’t get that. We have the professor/student relationship, but it is a friendship.” 

Anderson credits Dr. Walsh, associate professor of geology, with influencing his decision to pursue a degree in the earth science. As an undeclared major when he entered school, Anderson wasn’t sure what type of career he wanted to pursue. While completing the basics for his bachelor’s degree, Anderson took a physical science class with Dr. Walsh who mentioned at the time that Wayland was considering adding a major in geology to the curriculum. Anderson discussed the possibility with Walsh. He registered for a planetary geology course the following semester and discovered that he truly loved the field of study.

“That was probably my favorite course in college,” Anderson said. “One thing led to another and soon I was a geology major.”

Anderson and Clark, who stayed at school for an extra year to complete her dual major in history and geology, not only took up the study of geology, but spearheaded a campaign to start the Wayland geological society (WBUG). In three years the group has grown from three members to 15. WBUGS promotes geology and performs volunteer work. One project the students have taken on is to clean up Running Water Draw each semester. In the last few years, they have collected more than 100 bags of recyclable waste through the project.

The geology curriculum and the hands-on training were perfect for Anderson who loves being outdoors, hiking, climbing and exploring. With this field, he was able to participate in all those activities and study at the same time. 

“I can’t sit still,” he said. “We are always going outside and taking field trips. In order to understand everything, you have to get out there and get your hands dirty.”

Anderson also said the curriculum has drawn him closer to God, giving him a deeper understanding of creation.

“That was the biggest draw to me,” Anderson said. “This was something I can study and actually see what God made.”

Anderson isn’t sure where his degree in geology will lead. He has looked into working in the oil field and at teaching high school science. He eventually wants to pursue a master’s degree in geology. Although uncertain about his future, he figures he has some time to make a decision as he takes time to relax through the spring semester, preparing for his July wedding to fiancée Sharon Haney, who will graduate from Wayland in May.

“Next fall is when I will really have to make a decision,” said Anderson who has applied for some oilfield related jobs and has talked to several school principals about teaching. “I haven’t made up my mind. I’m just kind of waiting to see what doors God opens for me.”

The graduation ceremony for Anderson, Clark and approximately 60 other Wayland students will take place at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 11, in Wayland’s Harral Memorial Auditorium.