Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Q&A with Ruby Patterson: graduation spotlight


Ruby Patterson, a geology major, will be receiving a Bachelor of Science degree this May. Patterson has been a member of the National Society of Leadership and Success, the Dean’s Student Advisory Board as the senior geological sciences representative and as an outreach liaison and most recently president of the Student Geological Society.

What are some things that inspired you to choose your major?

Originally, I thought I wanted to become an elementary school teacher, but realized very early on that teaching wasn’t my calling. I actually took a job teaching kindergarten at a Montessori school in Bend, Oregon, but ended up leaving that position after just one year. I moved back home to San Antonio and began taking classes at Northwest Vista College to figure out what my next direction would be. Starting from zero was intimidating, but also terribly exciting because I had nothing to lose. At the insistence of my dad, who is a geologist, I took a couple of geology and chemistry classes and absolutely loved them. Before I knew it, I had declared my major as geology at UTSA.

What are you planning to do when you graduate?

After graduating, I will complete my field course requirement and continue to work in the Space Science and Engineering Division of Southwest Research Institute until I leave for graduate school. This fall, I will begin graduate school at the University of Arkansas for a Master’s of Science in Geology. I will be studying their extensive meteorite collection and writing my thesis on the tellurium isotope concentrations in meteorites using a laser ablation technique and a heavy element mass spectrometer.

How do you believe your time at UTSA will help you prepare for challenges (career, or otherwise) in the future?

UTSA taught me that I am so much tougher than I ever gave myself credit for. Juggling classes, labs, family obligations, employment, club involvement, social life and physical health is really hard. Like, really hard. I am so happy to be done with my bachelor’s degree because now it feels like I can do anything. I’ve made it through the gauntlet. There’s no stopping me now.

Did you have any mentors during your time at UTSA?

Yes, I’ve been lucky enough to have a mentor for the past two years. Her name is Dr. Danielle Wyrick, a triple alumni of UTSA. We met at the Geological Society of America conference in Baltimore, Maryland in Oct. 2015. She would later become my Planetary Geology professor in my first semester at UTSA, and now she is my boss at Southwest Research Institute. Danielle is a true badass and inspires me to regularly shatter the boundaries of my comfort zone. Whenever I begin to question whether I am smart enough, creative enough or tough enough to accomplish my goals, she always seems to know what to say to make me feel like a capable scientist again. I’ve realized the true power of my inner strength over the past two years, and I owe it all to Danielle. She was the one who pushed me to write all of my abstracts, give oral presentations at conferences and apply to graduate schools with space programs. She has moved mountains to help me along in my fledgling career, and I am extremely grateful for her impact in my life. One day I hope to mentor a young woman the way she has mentored me.

What are some of your largest aspirations for the future?

My largest aspiration for myself is to lead a team that mines asteroids for rare earth elements. The legacy I hope to leave behind is that of a power player in the commercial asteroid mining industry. As a scientist with a passion for both space and rocks, it is my dream job and I will do everything in my power to make it happen. This June, I will be attending and presenting my research at a space mining conference in Colorado, so I am super pumped for that experience. Once I retire, I would love to start a small business selling unique mineral and fossil centerpieces for people to put on display in their homes or corporate conference rooms.


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