A View to a New Geoscience Career for Military Veteran

Making the transition from a corporal in the United States Marine Corps to a civilian career might seem difficult for some, but not for Cameron Gernant – his sights are set on his education and his future as a geologist.

After enlisting in the United States Marine Corps in 2011, Gernant was recognized as a platoon honor graduate at boot camp at Parris Island. He attained the Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) 0311 Rifleman, after which he was moved to the MOS 6842 Meteorological and Oceanographic Forecaster. Gernant was stationed aboard Marine Corps Air Station Miramar attached to 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, Marine Air Control Group 38 and Marine Air Control Squadron 1, Detachment B.

Gernant rose to the rank of corporal during his service and was awarded the Global War on Terrorism Medal, the National Defense Medal, the Good Conduct Medal and received a Meritorious Promotion. 

“I was exposed to Earth science during my study of meteorology, in all places, the Marines,” Gernant said. “I liked the subject but found myself wanting to learn more about the earth under my feet rather than the atmosphere above it after taking an introductory geology course while taking night classes during my enlistment.” 

As he transitioned out of his military service, Gernant enrolled in the geology program at Louisiana State University (LSU). “As many transitioning veterans know, you can feel a little lost after losing the structure the military provides,” he said. “This can be exacerbated when moving onto a college campus where everyone is encouraged to be different – a very foreign thought for many of us.”

Gernant found his niche with his choice of geology as a field of study. 

“AAPG provided the structure and guidance I needed to set me on the right track for a career as a petroleum geologist,” he said. “I stayed because I was continually learning interesting material and the experience of a geology undergraduate cannot be beat by any other major in my opinion.”

Graduating cum laude with a bachelor’s in geology from LSU in Baton Rouge in May 2018, Gernant was a member of Student Veterans of LSU and a member of the AAPG student chapter. It was during his undergraduate studies that Gernant was an awardee of the Deana and Paul Strunk Military Veterans Scholarship Program.

Currently Gernant is pursuing a master’s degree at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He is a member of the Earth science department’s sedimentology lab and just finished his fieldwork while aboard Research Vessel Laurence M. Gould in Antarctica for his thesis on raised beaches and glacio-isostatic adjustment. 

In addition to conducting research and coursework he is the president of the AAPG student chapter, a member of the campus veterans’ organization, works as a teaching assistant and in his free time he enjoys the abundance of geology and sunshine in southern California. 

Gernant’s future outlook includes continuing to hone his skills while in graduate school and completing his master’s thesis on time. After graduation, he intends to seek employment at a larger oil and gas exploration company. 

“The AAPG Foundation’s generous scholarship is representative of the support I have found time and time again in my chosen career path and serves to further validate my decision,” he said. “The benefits haven’t ended there. My membership has opened me up to so many networking opportunities that would have been difficult or impossible without it.”

Gernant’s chosen field has also provided him a sense of belonging. 

“If you have spent a day with any geologist, you have had the pleasure of being in the company of someone who is highly motivated and loves their field,” he said. “The peers I have befriended maintain the perfect balance of light heartedness and thirst for adventure.”

You are eligible for a MVSP scholarship, ranging from $2,000 to $4,000, if you are a military veteran who has been honorably discharged, or an active U.S. military service member (including National Guard and Reserve) and you are pursuing an undergraduate degree in a field of geoscience at an accredited two- or four-year college or university, full time or part time. 

To learn more about the Deana and Paul Strunk Military Veterans Scholarship Program, visit the AAPG Foundation. Follow Military Veteran Scholarship Program updates on social media: #MVSP2019.

Questions? Email a Programs Coordinator.

Application deadline is May 1, 2019.

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