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Standout Honors Student: Samantha Hilburn

Publication date

October 23, 2017 4:00 PM


Jake Ward
Samantha Hilburn

During Samantha Hilburn’s short time at Tulane University, she has been involved with the Honors RLCs (Residential Learning Communities) in Wall and Weatherhead Residence Halls.  These experiences have guided her choices on major and research interests, leading her back to her childhood passion of geology.

In good news for any other students who have found it difficult to figure out their major at Tulane, Samantha has changed her own mind more than once, but is now aiming to double major in Geology and Earth and Environmental Sciences.  This process of deciding and re-deciding has been shaped by her involvement on campus, whether with the Honors RLCs or with Tulane University Neuroscience Association.

Although she did not live in the RLC as a first-year, Samantha was involved with the World Languages and Culture Society, one of several academically-oriented societies run by faculty fellows in the Wall community.  The World Languages and Culture Society, led by Charles Mignot, Professor of Practice in the French and Italian department, exposed Samantha to languages from across the world, beyond the French she had studied in the classroom.

As a sophomore, Samantha is living in Weatherhead Hall, the second-year Honors community.  She is enjoying being part of an “academically social” community, where student scholars work with and support each other.  On top of that, when she needs to decompress, she can listen to other students talk about their completely different topics of interest, opening her mind to other areas of academics.

Inside the classroom, she is turning back to her childhood love of geology, and specifically volcanoes, in pursuing her double major.  As part of her Geology degree, she is looking at a summer program with the International Volcanological Field School, in eastern Russia, just across the Bering Strait from Alaska.  If she does not end up working in volcanology in the future, then she hopes to work on climate change, an issue that fascinates her with its intersection between environmental science, politics, and economics.

Samantha recommends that younger students take advantage of all their opportunities at Tulane, whether in RLCs or in the wider community.  She especially recommends being an active part of the Honors RLC communities in Wall and Weatherhead, which have helped her discover, or re-discover, her main academic interests.  Most of all, Samantha is a great example that you do not have to know exactly what you want to study to be involved—in fact, being involved often helps you find what you love.