As a nervous sophomore, I walked into the office of Warnell’s Career Service Coordinator, Ami Flowers, and prepared to drastically change my career plan. I was going from a Biology major with the lifelong dream of becoming a veterinarian to a Wildlife Science major with an unknown future. After discussing this plan, Ami mentioned to me that Warnell offered a dual program in which students could earn Wildlife degree as well as a Forestry degree with just one additional semester of classes. For someone who had just thrown every previous life plan out the window with no idea of what was to come, this sounded like a good deal to me. So, that day I went back to my house, logged onto Degreeworks, and became a dual Forestry and Wildlife Science student.
I didn’t know the first thing about forestry, and not much about wildlife science when I stepped into Warnell on my first day of classes. Amongst the confusion of navigating which buildings were 1 and 4, I made a few friends along the way; ones that would become my family. What I did expect from this school were late nights studying subjects I was unfamiliar with, but what I didn’t expect was to be welcomed into the most amazing familial atmosphere I have ever experienced. What I didn’t expect was to meet some of my best friends.
I believe that my decision to seek a dual degree has allowed me to foster these friendships with students and professors in both fields. This has been, by far, the coolest opportunity that I have had in my college career. In one day, I go from learning the basics of Forest Mensuration, calculator in hand, with Dr. Bullock, to laughing in Mammalogy as Dr. Castleberry makes his clever jokes about whatever mammals we are studying that day.
I see this especially on field trips taken outside of school. I recently attended the Mammalogy field trip with several other students. I remarked at how easily we all got along with each other. This summer, I attended Forestry Field Camp with around 30 other forestry students. The three weeks we spent together were full of long hours and hard work, but also of laughter and new friendships. From both of these trips, I have learned how great it is to have friends in both the forestry program and the wildlife program, the best of both worlds. It’s these moments that make Warnell home to me and why I will be forever grateful that I was convinced to do both.