Coastal Studies Alumnus Reflects on the Unfolding of her College Career


Brooke Gooding discusses how the Coastal Studies Semester helped unfold her career ahead of her.

Alumnus Brooke Gooding's College Career Path

Graduation Year



  • Coastal Studies Program
  • Environmental Science & Policy (B.A.)


New Market, MD


  • Biology


Bachelor of Art

I just recently completed my undergrad degree (January 2023) at Hood College and can say with 100% certainty, the coastal semester of Fall 2021 was the best time I have had in my entire college experience. I transferred to Hood the semester of Fall 2020 from Frederick Community College, so my first year here was anything but normal due to the COVID pandemic. In the Fall, I only had 2 labs on campus while my Spring semester was entirely Zoom classroom. I heard about the Coastal Studies program from my advisor, Dr. Ferrier, and after talking to Rev Beth I decided to go for it. This was a big decision for me because for a year (like most students) all of my educational experience was online and quarantined, so I was nervous to have another ‘first-year’ to school since I would actually be physically in the classroom as well as on additional trips.  

I don’t think I can pinpoint the exact moment I knew environmental science was for me, but I can say the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill (April 20, 2010 - damaged well capped on July 15, 2010) disaster was a ‘lightbulb’. News channels kept covering the after-effects even months after it stopped spilling, and I remember that at the age of 10 I couldn’t believe how much everything was affected; the water, beaches, surrounding communities, plants, and marine/terrestrial animals. This and future climate events intrigued me more, that at 16 I decided I want to spend my life working around the environment. Even though I knew I wanted my major to be in environmental science, I still had no real clue to what I wanted to focus on. The coastal program helped me discover my interests and furthered my passion to help planet earth. I thought I would possibly want to work in marine science or even with governmental agencies, but our trip to Western Maryland opened my eyes to forest ecology and the quiet mountains where you feel like you’re the furthest away from civilization. It was incredible to trek in the woods at night, turning off all flashlights to be greeted with complete darkness except for the few stars of the sky (there was no urban light pollution, so it was REALLY dark) and listening to the sounds of flying squirrels jumping, the flapping wings of owls getting closer as we made calls to them, and hearing their response! 

We got to meet so many people of different backgrounds that were all united in the environmental conversation, and focused on how we can work with each other (despite differences) to reach a harmony between humans and wildlife. When I signed up for the Coastal Studies Semester, I didn’t expect to have created such amazing memories. I am still in contact with everyone as we truly are one big family, and I’m grateful to have had such an eye opening experience. The semester made me feel much more secure in the ‘real’ world; a lot of the courses and trips required teamwork to problem solve, communication, and meeting with a lot of professionals/workers in different career fields. Talking with people of the same and different interests is key to communicating, which is extremely valuable when navigating future careers and working a job. We met every type of person, from historians to oyster specialists to a bear biologist!  

As of now, I am taking a break from college courses while job searching and continuing my volunteering for the local National Audubon Society. I hope to find a job that is part in the field and part in the lab, and possibly government or a non-profit organization. My biggest dream would be to work in Canada, especially with migrating birds and researching them in the face of climate change. But with the skills and resources the Coastal Studies semester provides (and the summer job I had at the department with water quality testing), I feel a lot more confident and excited for a future career in environmental science.