Isabelle Rein
Class of 2016
What have you done since you graduated?: “I graduated from Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania this year with a degree in Geology. I moved to South Dakota in May and I lived out there until October.
In South Dakota, I was a Geo-scientist in Badlands National Park. I was hired to be a type of ranger, but it wasn’t a traditional ranger position. Through a program run by the park, geologists teach geology, engage with visitors, and are a source of information for visitors. This season was a little different because of COVID. Instead of going out and doing geology hikes and tours, like I would have been doing if there wasn't a pandemic, I mainly staffed the visitors center.
I got to spend a lot of time learning about South Dakota, learning about all the great places to go, and learning about the Badlands. It was a good experience.
Even though South Dakota was one of the leading states with COVID cases this summer and early fall, we were very prepared and very safe.
I will be in Connecticut for the foreseeable future. I'm currently applying to graduate schools for the fall of 2021. I will be away again somewhere in the country studying geology.”
Why did you decide to be a geologist?: “During my first summer break from college, I worked at the American Museum of Tort Law in Winsted. I worked on some curriculums for the museum when I was there, and I also gave tours. Once I got back to college, I started as a teaching assistant for classes that I had taken in the geology department. I got to know students and I got a feel for what it was like to engage with students and help them with geology work. That was when I figured out that I love to teach. 
I applied the following summer to Acadia National Park where I worked as an education ranger, spending the summer doing programs for children, taking people for geology hikes, and getting people involved outdoors. It's wonderful to work in a park.
Before I graduated, the last summer position I held was in Virginia. I was able to develop a geology curriculum and teach students in a camp setting with lessons each day. It was all hands-on lessons with the students. This set me up with my position with Badlands National Park. When I was working at Badlands, it made me realize how much I missed researching. In my senior year at college, I did my thesis on apatite, a mineral in Iceland. I missed that research aspect of geology. I want to get back into research and get my master's degree, and hopefully after that, my Ph. D.”
What do you remember from your time at Gilbert?: “I remember my teachers a lot. My senior year is the first thing in my mind I think just because that was the most recent year. My most fond memories of Gilbert are about being a member of the marching band. 
The marching band was in itself a close community. We all had a great time rehearsing and performing. I tried to do some musical ensembles when I was in college but I never found the same type of sound or community that we had at Gilbert. I was always longing for that same community feeling that I had at Gilbert. When I didn't find it, I preserved it in my mind and decided not to continue studying music in college.”
What lessons from Gilbert have you applied to the real world?: “I would say growing up and going to school in such a small town, you kind of know everyone. When you grow up with them and go to all the same classes, by the time you get to high school, you have all known each other for 10 years. In college, I realized that I was a small fish in a bigger pond compared to being home in Winsted where everyone is a big fish in a much smaller pond. I think that finding those small communities is very important. I've learned how to speak out in communities where I have worked and lived. During high school, I found myself wishing that I was out of the small town and I was looking for bigger and better things. As I've grown up I've found myself seeking the smaller communities and trying to build them for myself. I miss having those deeper connections that you get when you have known people for a long time. Or when you are in that smaller community with them.”
What advice would you give to current students?: “I would say not to have your life all planned out. I think when I was in high school, I thought I was going to graduate high school, go to college, and do 'x, y, and z.'
When I graduated from Gilbert, I thought I was going to go into neuroscience in college, maybe become a brain doctor and study medicine, including going to medical school.
I realized that I didn't need to know who I was immediately. I grew up in high school and I found myself through the activities that I did, including band, and having my friends and the classes that I liked. You don't need to know exactly who you are because you grow in many ways. You don't need to know everything all at once. One of the best things about graduating high school is that wherever you go from there, whether it's college or whether it's work, you are going to grow in so many ways after high school as well.
There are so many things that change after graduation that you can't plan for. At one point you have to learn how to roll with the punches. You have to realize that you are going to be happy, even if things don't go in the exact way that you planned them to.”