Meet Our Students

Earth & Environmental Sciences students at UMKC come from all over the world and explore diverse interests. Get to know our students, and you’ll learn what our programs are about.

Joshua Bragg had a job waiting for him as a geologist

Originally from Albuquerque, N.M., Joshua was interviewed in April of 2017, before he graduated from UMKC with a Bachelor of Science degree in Geology.

Joshua Bragg in the studio, smiling

Why did you choose UMKC?

I like living in Kansas City – it’s an engineering hub. I enjoy living here for the culture, how active it is and how green it is. There are a lot of districts in Kansas City that offer different things.

I like the smaller class sizes at UMKC. I almost feel like my department, the Department of Geosciences, is like a family. This helped me academically and is helping grow my career.

Speaking of careers, you have a job waiting for you upon graduation. What is it, and how did you accomplish that?

I’ll be a field geologist at Burns & McDonnell.

The key was networking. I spent a lot of time researching local trade groups, attending events and meeting people. Some of those people became mentors, and helped me get this job.

I encourage people to network as much as possible, at least once a month. If something doesn’t happen overnight, it will eventually.

Joshua Bragg in the studio

Why did you choose geology?

I wanted a career in the environmental field and realized the importance of geology in accomplishing this.

The program has some difficult subjects, such as, mineralogy and structural geology. These are the classes that make or break a geology student. But the benefits of the program are obtaining sound, scientific knowledge. There are also lots of educational and fun field trips that allow you to get to know your fellow geologists.

My college program has inspired me to never settle for mediocrity and follow my dreams, no matter how big or small they may be.

Since entering college, what have you learned about yourself?

I have learned that I have a skill for writing and communication. I also learned that I loved science and rocks.

UMKC helped Aaron Banes discover his passions and path

Aaron is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in Geology.

Aaron Banes in the studio, smiling

Why did you choose your field of study?

I struggled with choosing a field, as many people do. One day I sat down and listed out my interests and considered the related fields. I chose Geology because it has an incredible amount of job diversity. It helped that the geologists that I had met and talked to absolutely loved the field.

Geology’s greatest appeal is also its toughest sell; it requires a very wide scope of knowledge as well as practical skills. There’s a lot to learn to be a geologist, so it’s helpful to have a well-rounded education. The faculty and staff are available and happy to help if there’s any need, of course.

The benefits are that you become good at many things because of its nature as a natural science. Beyond that, previously mundane rocks become exciting! Geology is a good field for people who like to be outdoors and enjoy science. This is thanks to the field work involved with most classes.

Aaron Banes in the studio

What’s the best piece of advice you have ever received from a professor?

To apply myself even if my chances are slim. There was an REU (research experience for undergraduates) last semester that had very limited spots and many applicants. I wanted to be a part of it, but I didn’t think I could make it. One of the professors basically told me, “What do you have to lose by submitting an application?”  I went ahead and took the chance and was amazed when I was selected.

What do you admire most at UMKC?

I like that UMKC is accepting of people. The people here are polite and friendly. It makes everything easier when everyone is so pleasant to work with! I’ve found both the student and staff/faculty cultures at UMKC to be great fun as well as professional in every department I’ve had the pleasure to encounter.