He Just Keeps Going

Photos by Brandon Parigo, Strategic Marketing and Communications

UMKC helped Aaron Banes discover his passions and path

Get to know our students, and you’ll know what UMKC is all about.

Aaron Banes, December 2017
Bachelor of Science in Geology
School: College of Arts and Sciences
Hometown: Kansas City, Missouri

Why did you choose UMKC?

I chose UMKC because it was affordable and offered a quality education. I knew some graduates from UMKC who were happy with it. I moved to investigate further and learned the average student age range fit me — I was 24 when I was looking. After visiting the campus, I felt like it was a place where I would fit in and do well.

Why did you choose your field of study?

I struggled with choosing a field, as many people do. One day I sat down and listed out my interests and considered the related fields. I chose Geology because it has an incredible amount of job diversity. It helped that the geologists that I had met and talked to absolutely loved the field.

Geology’s greatest appeal is also its toughest sell; it requires a very wide scope of knowledge as well as practical skills. There’s a lot to learn to be a geologist, so it’s helpful to have a well-rounded education. The faculty and staff are available and happy to help if there’s any need, of course.

The benefits are that you become good at many things because of its nature as a natural science. Beyond that, previously mundane rocks become exciting! Geology is a good field for people who like to be outdoors and enjoy science. This is thanks to the field work involved with most classes.

How has your college program inspired you?

Before transferring to UMKC, my goal was to acquire a four-year degree and get a job. I never really considered doing research or going to grad school. My experience with the geology program helped me consider reaching further. I’m a part of a few research projects and even considering continuing my education into grad school now.

Since entering college I’ve learned many things. The more I learn, the more I realize I don’t know, but that’s okay. Being aware of what you haven’t experienced can help you improve yourself. Life is a process of making yourself who you want to be, and education is a way to make that happen. You just need to have the courage to take the first steps. I’ve learned that there are a lot of things I can do that I’d never thought possible before.

What’s the best piece of advice you have ever received from a professor?

To apply myself even if my chances are slim. There was an REU (research experience for undergraduates) last semester that had very limited spots and many applicants. I wanted to be a part of it, but I didn’t think I could make it. One of the professors basically told me, “What do you have to lose by submitting an application?”  I went ahead and took the chance and was amazed when I was selected.

What do you admire most at UMKC?

I like that UMKC is accepting of people. The people here are polite and friendly. It makes everything easier when everyone is so pleasant to work with! I’ve found both the student and staff/faculty cultures at UMKC to be great fun as well as professional in every department I’ve had the pleasure to encounter.

Are you a first generation college student?

I’m the first person in my family to get an associate’s degree or get close to a four-year degree. Simplified to the standard definition, first-generation college student means that neither of my parents hold bachelor’s degrees.

It’s a lot more than that to me. It’s very complicated, but most of the first-generation college students I know share a lot of similar experiences. I can only speak for myself, but to me it means a much more difficult time in college. I think first-generation college students must struggle with extra doubts, confusion due to a lack of guidance and much more.

What’s your greatest fear?

My greatest rational fear was failure to finish my research poster on time for the Lunar and Planetary Space Conference (I finished it).

On the other hand, my greatest irrational fear is that I’ll get attacked by a swarm of giant, icky ticks during field camp, a required course. There’s a lot of discussion about ticks on geology field trips, and they always make me squirm!

What is one word that best describes you?

Inertia. Like the classical physics term, I’m a person that just keeps going until I’m stopped. This applies to a lot of my behavior; I’m notorious for it. For example, I tend to pick up hobbies and doggedly pursue them until I can’t, at which point I’m forced to move to a new hobby. It’s a great trait for homework, because once I get started I just keep burning through the assignments!

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