Alumni Spotlight

SCHOOL OF EARTH & ENVIRONMENT

Alumni Spotlight

“I’m not the first person you’d expect to be digging in the dirt,” says 2013 graduate Shannon Murphy. But that is exactly what the environmental scientist does, though with precision and purpose, thanks to her Rowan education.

When she was younger, Murphy struggled with deciding what she wanted to do as a career. “I really had no idea what I wanted to be,” Murphy says. “But I love hair and makeup, so for a while I thought I wanted to be a cosmetologist.”

That all changed when she was in high school. As she and her friends watched movies after school one day, they stumbled across the film The Day After Tomorrow. The plot resonated with Murphy, as she watched the film’s protagonist struggle to survive in a world affected by weather-induced, global catastrophes.

“I developed a passion for wanting to help the world in some way,” Murphy says. She reflected on some of the things she loved to do as a child—playing in water and dirt and watching intense weather—and pondered a career choice that capitalized on these interests.

Four years later, Murphy graduated with dual degrees in geography and environmental studies, with dual minors in planning and geographic information systems (GIS) and concentrations in geographic inquiries into global issues and geoscience.

As an environmental scientist, Murphy says, “The scope of my work is very broad, much like my undergraduate studies.” And she wouldn’t have it any other way, seeking a job just outside of her comfort zone to continue growing her skills. The same month that she graduated from Rowan she launched her career at AECOM, a multinational engineering firm. She started working in a chemical plant, testing groundwater, soil and waste and managing data in the company’s database. She enjoys her team-oriented career, working alongside geologists and chemists to improve the world around us.

“There are times I look at my job and I go, ‘Wow, this is awesome.’” Murphy says. “My advice to students is to think back to when you were a kid: What were you passionate about? Do that. Make it a reality. What I do now recreates what I did as a child and it’s incredibly rewarding.”​