August 20, 2015 | Matt KucinskiLynn Rosendale

Brianna Marshall interned this summer at the Smithsonian museums in Washington, D.C. Photo courtesy: Jim DiLoreto

This summer, we are following grads from the Class of 2015 as they continue their journeys around the corner and across the globe. Following a summer internship at the Smithsonian museums in Washington, D.C., Brianna Marshall accepted a position as a research specialist for the Center for Social Research.

  • Name: Brianna Marshall
  • Class: 2015
  • Hometown: Sacramento, Calif.
  • Major(s): geology
  • Next step: research specialist at the Center for Social Research

What has surprised you so far?

As I expected, all the researchers and post/pre-docs in the department of mineral sciences at the Museum of Natural History are absolutely brilliant. I was really surprised by how laid back and homey the department was. Everyone was super welcoming and it was an amazing, low stress environment to work in. The global geologic research community seems very connected and seeing how different people from all over the world (professors, post-docs, pre-docs, guest researchers, etc.) gathered at the museum to do research really solidified my desire to go to grad school and work with the global community to further geologic work.

What class at Calvin had the greatest impact on you overall?

My eschatology class with Suzanne McDonald changed my life. Every day in class she would say, “What you do today matters in eternity,” and that phrase has stuck with me ever since then. Because of it, I strive every day to be a better person and show God’s love more fully to those around me because the way I live now is just a foreshadowing of the life I will live in the future. I also strive to excel in whatever vocation I am living out because I know that what I do is beneficial to some aspect of God’s created world and furthers His Kingdom, which is what we are all called to do.

What’s one thing you would want to tell someone starting his or her journey at Calvin?

Be studious, but also make time for deep and meaningful relationships. My freshman year, all I did was study (which if you err on any side, that’s probably the better side!). But looking back, I wish I would have invested more time into relationships with people on my floor. Going along with that, I would say that trying to find your balance is really important. It can be really overwhelming to live on a floor with tons of other people, work, have tons of opportunities for extracurricular activity and also study. Just know it is okay to step back and chill until you get the hang of everything. Don’t feel pressure to be over involved and stretch yourself beyond your capacity, especially freshman year.

What was your favorite space on campus?

I think the observatory was my favorite space on campus. I only went there three times during my four years, but I distinctly remember every time I went. It’s absolutely beautiful seeing Calvin from the roof of the Science Building. The maps of Calvin’s buildings make so much more sense too! But it’s a great space to just clear your head and think and reflect. One of my favorite things about the observatory is looking through the telescope to see the stars and even planets. It just makes me feel so privileged to be part of the vastness of God’s great world.

What do you miss most about Calvin?

I miss the Calvin College Gospel Choir most of all. I was in the choir for all four years and it definitely shaped so much of my Calvin experience. I love to sing, and I grew so much vocally each semester. Freshman through junior year I sang alto, but senior year, I ended up singing soprano, which was a blast. I grew really close to Dr. Sawyer, the choir director and I will miss being in choir with her. She became my second mom/mentor while I was at Calvin. She was there for every important event in my life at Calvin, and helped me navigate a lot of the difficulties of being a minority at Calvin College during my four years. Lastly, I learned so much about my own history and culture in the Gospel Choir and the cultural pride that I’ve developed from being in the choir is priceless.

A successful path

The success of Calvin grads goes beyond job titles, salaries, graduate degrees and employers as they pursue God's call on their lives. Still, the results are clear: Calvin grads get good jobs at places like Google, Pixar, National Geographic and Boeing, earn higher mid-career salaries than grads from other private colleges in Michigan (according to and attend some of the best graduate schools in the country.

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