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Student Spotlight: How Does Someone Become a Geologist?

Nia’s post-secondary exploration

(October 5, 2023) - Discovering a mineral deposit is a complex process, there’s no doubt. So too is finding one’s passion within the many post-secondary offerings. For Nia Gauthier, the path to becoming a Geologist was also hidden beneath the surface. 

Nia is now a thesis-based Masters of Geology student at Laurentian University, supervised by Dr. Stéphane Perrouty, originally from Chapleau, Ontario and a graduate from École Secondaire du Sacré Coeur (2018). Through her journey, Nia has successfully completed two post-secondary degrees and is currently working towards her third. 

Initially, it was Nia’s intent to complete Laurentian’s Engineering program, knowing that career options in Greater Sudbury were plentiful. However, she didn’t think she had the grades necessary in her high school science courses to attend. “I didn’t think I could make it to university at first and I am now beginning my masters, something I didn't think was achievable.” 

She didn’t let this discourage her though, and she went on to complete a two-year Civil and Mining Technology program at College Boreal to boost her grades. “Going to college first really helped bridge the gaps of what I was able to understand in high school and gave me the tools I needed for university.” 

During her college studies, Nia discovered she had a passion for geology and wanted to learn more once she had been introduced to the field. Underground and field exploration mapping is where Nia’s interests lie.

Nia worked with Borden Gold, a company located in her hometown, as a Core Technician soil sampling in the core shack alongside geologists during the summers from 2018 to 2020. She was happy to discover that Laurentian has a very well known Earth Sciences program with a variety of field school options, so she prepared herself for the next step and began her degree in September 2020.

“Many of the faculty at Laurentian are passionate about student success,” said Nia. Tobias Roth, Lynn Bulloch, and Dr. Pedro Jugo are just a few staff and faculty members who made a positive impact on Nia’s academic experience.

In her undergraduate studies as an Earth Sciences student at Laurentian, Nia was a member of the Earth Sciences Club. Through this organization, she attended annual weekend trips to Bancroft, Ontario for mineral collecting. “The trips were a big step in getting to know other students while doing something we are passionate about,” said Nia. The Willet Green Miller Centre also created an environment where Nia felt at home with other geology students.

Nia was able to gain field exploration experience during the summer of 2021 while working for SPC Nickel, a junior company local to Sudbury, where she searched for copper, nickel and PGE (Platinum-group elements) bearing minerals. Earlier this year, Nia was notified by a Laurentian faculty member about a field exploration position with Frontier Lithium in Northwestern Ontario. She spent summer 2023 working for the company in search of LCT (lithium-cesium-tantalum) pegmatites.

Nia is excited to be graduating in two years and will seek to travel while working in production or exploration geology. Nia even sees potential for completing a PhD later on in life. Nia is an example of why to follow your passion and never give up, even when it might be more difficult to find than your typical nickel deposit.