Unearthing a dream

Student in a mine

A wish, framed on Jasmine Nieva’s wall, written in her elementary school hand, reads, “I want to be a mineralogist.”It’s a journal entry from long ago, back when she hammered rocks with her father’s hammer, eager to learn what was inside.

“I found this journal while I was doing my first degree in toxicology,” Nieva said. “I actually started crying because I realized, ‘Oh wow, this is something I always wanted and what I should have done.’ At that point, I knew I really needed to do geology.”

She finished her degree and took a year off before coming to Western to pursue her dream.

Today, Nieva is in the fourth year of her Bachelor of Science Honours Specialization in Geology and a two-time recipient of a J.P. Bickell Foundation Mining Scholarship.

“The scholarships gave me so many amazing opportunities in the geology field and helped pay off a portion of my tuition, and my lab equipment and field gear.”

The funding also helped cover some of her travel expenses for a geoscience field experience in South Africa during reading week last November. “The field school focused on economic geology, mineral exploration and how mining companies work,” Nieva said. “I actually got to go into a diamond mine and a gold mine too. I always hear about it and learn about it in classes, but actually experiencing it first-hand was amazing. I never thought I’d end up going to South Africa, ever. Part of me still can’t believe I went.”

She’s grateful for the experience she knows will serve her well in the future, along with both degrees.

“My toxicology background made me more environmentally cautious because I learned how toxins hurt the environment. I would like to incorporate that with my geology degree and have a career in the mining industry in risk assessment, environmental remediation or mining exploration.”