LAWRENCE — For most college students, getting involved with a professional society means joining or leading a local student chapter and attending meetings. But for University of Kansas geology doctoral candidates Mackenzie Cremeans and Blair Schneider, getting involved means winning a membership-wide election to lead a thousand-member international association.
In July, Cremeans was chosen president-elect by the membership of the Association of Women Geoscientists (AWG). She will begin her term Oct. 1 and will serve as president in 2018-2019 and as past president in 2019-2020. Schneider will complete her three-year term in leadership Sept. 30. In the 40-year history of the organization, Cremeans and Schneider are the only students who have been elected president.
Both Cremeans and Schneider previously served as regional delegates to the AWG's board of directors. They said their success stems from a variety of factors. As Madison and Lila Self Graduate Fellows at KU, both have received management, communications and leadership training. Personal connections are also key.
"In large part, KU geology students are successful at becoming elected because we interface and work with each other," Cremeans said. "Blair nominated me to be a delegate because she knew my work ethic and my ability to lead successfully."
For the same reason, they recently helped another KU geology doctoral candidate step up, nominating Sarah Morton to be a regional delegate on the association board.Taking on a leadership position is about much more than building a resume, Cremeans said.
"Aside from the inevitable personal growth that comes with being a leader, it's important for graduate students to take leadership positions in professional societies because these societies shape the fields we hope to enter upon graduation," Cremeans said. "Serving as a leader provides opportunities to make great connections with future colleagues and to guide the direction of the field as a whole."
Cremeans said she is happy to have this opportunity.
"I'm honored and excited to work alongside an incredible group of leaders, from the U.S. and around the world, to continue AWG's strong tradition of promoting, encouraging and elevating women and girls," she said.
Cremeans and Schneider are members of AWG's Osage Chapter, which serves KU and the surrounding region.