Wilkes

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Giving Back

Two Alumni Give Back through Professional Development

Gneiss is a type of metamorphic rock. It’s also the name of a new scholarship started by two Wilkes alumni who wanted to give back to the University. It’s an appropriate name for a scholarship that will give a Wilkes student the opportunity to attend the Field Conference of Pennsylvania Geologists.

Heather Shocker ’94 and Jason Sheasley ’93 established the GNEISS Scholarship –which stands for Geologic Networking Experience Initiated by Sheasley and Shocker. With the new geology major at Wilkes, the pair thought that it would provide a good professional experience for students. The two have been regular attendees of the conference for several years. It provides opportunities for  geologists and geo-scientists to learn about the geology of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Shocker earned her master’s degree in geology from Michigan Technological University in 1997 and she is now director, program management with DigitalGlobe, International Defense and Intelligence in Denver, Colo. Sheasley is a licensed professional geologist in Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Florida. He is an associate and senior hydrogeologist with Kimley-Horn and Associates, Inc. in Jacksonville, Fla.

“It is important for us to give back to Wilkes students because we both benefited from the generosity of others who were willing to share their knowledge and experience with us,” Shocker and Sheasley recall. “We believe we can make a difference by offering students tangible, real-world experiences and introduce them to others working in the geosciences field.”

The conference provides both networking and educational opportunities. “The unique thing about the conference is that it involves traveling to various locations, like mines, quarries, road cuts, around the state to observe and study geologic features first-hand,” says Sheasley. He adds that students also have an opportunity to meet professionals in the industry and explore career opportunities.

“The conference is very popular among Commonwealth geo-scientists and, for logistical reasons, the number of participants each year is limited to 275. In most cases, the conference is booked within a weeks’ time,” explains Sheasley. He and Shocker have arranged with the conference coordinators to secure a spot for a GNEISS Scholarship recipient each year.

The first scholarship recipient was Emma Sukowaski, who is also the first declared geology major at Wilkes. The second recipient is Ryan Wysocki, a junior geology major.

Sukowaski says attending the event helped her to refine career and graduate school choices. “At the conference. I learned that I had many options,” Sukowaski says. She is now considering attending graduate school or obtaining her professional geologist license and becoming a consultant.

jason emma and heather.jpg

From left, Jason Sheasley ’93, Wilkes student Emma Sukowaski and HEather Shocker ’94, celebrate opportunities for geologists.


About the GNIESS Scholarship

Applicants for the scholarship prepare a 500-word essay explaining why they would like to attend the conference. The recipient must give a short presentation to the Earth and Environmental Sciences Department about the conference to encourage other students to apply.

Shocker and Sheasley would like to challenge fellow alumni to donate to the scholarship. “Our hope is that we will be able to send more than one student to the conference, offering them this unique experience,” they say. Alumni can donate to the scholarship by contacting them at gneiss.scholarship@gmail.com.

For more information about scholarships at Wilkes, contact Margaret Steele at 570-408-4302 or Margaret.steele@wilkes.edu.