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Selena (Oleck) Higgins

PG Project Geologist, GEI Consultants, Inc.

Education:

The University of Pennsylvania, Master of Science in Applied Geosciences—Hydrogeology ’15
The University of Pennsylvania, Bachelor of Arts in Geology ’14

“It started with my mom,” shares Selena (Oleck) Higgins (Master of Science in Applied Geosciences ’15) about her lifelong commitment to environmental issues. “She instilled in me from a young age that the Earth is important.” Today, Selena is a Staff Geologist for Roux Associates, an environmental consulting firm. In her role, she focuses primarily on industrial sites in New Jersey with suspected or known contamination. Her work is split between filing reports, doing field work and conducting research that helps engineers find solutions. She notes, “I like solving real-world problems.”

Selena made her way to Penn after taking time to evaluate her academic and professional goals. She completed a year at West Chester University and then was soon accepted into the College of Liberal and Professional Studies’ (LPS) Bachelor of Arts program. “As a non-traditional student, I thought to myself ‘If I’m going back to school, I’m going to the best school possible.’” Selena then submatriculated into the Master of Science in Applied Geosciences (MSAG) program during her senior year in 2014.

During her undergraduate and graduate studies at Penn, Selena took full advantage of opportunities within LPS and across the University. In Selena’s words, “I got as much out of the program as I put into it.” She joined the LPS Student Association; traveled to Sardinia for a geology camp; completed an environmental education internship; developed her professional skills at the first-year student retreat; and she landed the job she has today by attending the All Ivy Environmental and Sustainable Development Career Fair.

“I wanted a career path, and Penn helped me create one,” she says. “The professors were helpful and accessible and my peers—many of whom are working professionals—answered a lot of questions about the field during my job search.”

Along with the personal connections, the MSAG program also set Selena up with the tools she needed to succeed in her line of work. “I took a class in geographic information system (GIS) mapping from the man who is essentially the master of GIS,” she continues, “The hydrogeology course was very practical. I use what we learned almost every day in my job.”

With her Professional Geologist pre-certification test in the near future, Selena is excited by the opportunities ahead, “I have a lot of room for advancement and growth. And I will always be fascinated by how the Earth works.”

Professional affiliation updated in August 2021.

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