April 19, 2022

Graduating this spring with his degree in Natural Sciences with a concentration in Geology, senior Blake Smalley found his way to SSU after participating in a campus tour. A native of Adams County, Smalley realized what a perfect fit SSU was for him since it was close to home. He quickly chose his major as Geology after being inspired by his aunt who had a master’s degree in the field

photo of Blake Smalley

“From a young age, my aunt would take me along when she’d go fossil hunting and mineral collecting,” he said. “She sparked a passion for geology in me that developed into a love for the field once I started college. Discovering that Shawnee had a geology major was ultimately my deciding factor in wanting to double major in it.”

Smalley will graduate with his Geology degree this spring and then finish his degree in education next year in 2023. Once he has both of his degrees, he plans to enter the education workforce as a teacher.

“My two degrees will be in Natural Sciences with a Geology Concentration and Integrated Science Adolescent-to-Young Adult Education,” he said. “After one or two years of working, I plan to apply for my Master’s in Earth Science Education to become certified to teach dual credit Geology courses in the high school setting.”

Throughout his degree, Smalley’s favorite memory has been completing a Cave Mapping Project in his Advanced Geographic Mapping class. It gave him a sense of what it entails to serve as a geologist in the field.

“The class traveled to Hilton Valley Research Facility in Kentucky near Mammoth Caves and surveyed Adwell Cave,” he said. “Learning how to create a Cave System was an amazing experience. After we finished mapping the cave, we traveled to Mammoth Caves. There, we went on a Historical Tour, learned about the geology of the region, and how the cave system developed.”

The SSU Geology program focuses heavily on experiential and field-based learning. Students have the opportunity to engage with faculty on geologic research and to take advantage of a central location to see a wide variety of geological phenomena. Graduates of the program are employed by natural resource companies, environmental consulting firms, government agencies, nonprofit organizations and universities, and more. Many graduates also continue their studies by enrolling in graduate school.

To learn more about the Bachelor of Science in Geology at Shawnee State University, visit