Security or passion? At first, Virginia Dow chose the former by switching her major from science to accounting, and she worked for several years as a bookkeeper. Then:
“I think I fell into a similar sort of ‘trap’ that it seems a lot of others my age did upon realizing we were going to enter the work force in an economically unpredictable time,” said Dow, who graduated from West Chester University with an accounting degree five years ago. “Outside influence from older family members and, honestly, some fear, led me to stay on a road towards accounting for the security it would likely provide.” But, she went back to her passion.
She left her job and enrolled at La Salle University in 2012 to become a scientist and has completed her degree in geology. Dow also was named the top graduate in the Geology, Environmental Science and Physics Department.
“The motivation I felt to choose a career that would be more fulfilling to me, financial stability aside, is something I notice a lot now in my friends and in other 20-somethings,” Dow said. “Had I not felt this uncertainty or fear as a younger student, I likely would have remained an environmental studies major at West Chester.”
“I’ve always had a greater interest in science in general than in business. I am curious to learn how things came to be, how things work,” she said. “Geology is the perfect discipline because it has allowed me to understand what I see outside every day—how it was created, how it got there, and how it changed through the enormity of time are all questions I find very interesting. I now have a base upon which to continue asking questions about what is physically in front of me, and that feels much more valuable to me than my knowledge of tax rules.”
Because she already had a college degree, Dow needed to only take science classes to earn her B.S. in geology at La Salle—and she received As in every course. But it was a big adjustment after studying accounting.
“It was a huge change for me, going from accounting to taking all science classes,” said Dow. “I took biology at West Chester, but it had been years since I had to write a lab report,” Dow said. “Just the amount of time required for a science class was shocking to me. The fact that most semesters I was taking all science classes at once was definitely a challenge. There’s no comparison between the amount of work I put in here on labs and on trying to catch up with my fellow students on just basic science knowledge, versus working toward my accounting degree. Working hands-on in the labs and in the field has been so much more exciting than anything I’ve experienced in accounting.”
Dow had saved enough money from her accounting job to support herself while finishing her degree, and she was the recipient of the University’s Dr. Bruce MacLeod Scholarship, given to “high achieving” geology students. She also worked part-time for the Geology Department.
“She’s a wonderful person,” said Department Chair Hank Bart, Ph.D., “She’s hard-working and an inspiration to all. She’s done some of the best work in lab that I’ve seen in all my years here! It wasn’t easy for her to make the transition from accounting to geology, but she did so very well, maintaining a 4.0 GPA.”
La Salle University was established in 1863 through the legacy of St. John Baptist de La Salle and the Christian Brothers teaching order, which St. La Salle founded in 1680. La Salle is an educational community shaped by traditional Catholic and Lasallian values. The University is ranked by U.S. News & World Report among the top 30 schools in the North Region and among the top 10 Catholic schools in the region.