Graduation Profile: College experience alters path for senior

Marquise Paige, B.S. in geology, Class of 2015

The student carrying the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences’ banner at graduation this year is not the same student he was as a freshman four years ago.

Student senator. Geology major. Camper. Researcher. None of these were experiences Marquise Paige, a Wichita senior, had envisioned when he first enrolled at the University of Kansas. He described himself as a shy student who was planning to keep his head down, get good grades, and graduate with a degree in petroleum engineering.

Yet, within a few months of arriving at KU, he was running for Student Senate and soon after, headed for a new major.

“When I first started KU, I was really introverted. I didn’t really talk to people a lot and kept to myself. I didn’t know a lot about myself because I didn’t have a lot of experiences,” Paige said. “I lived in the scholarship halls my first year and a lot of the people in there started to get really involved and I started to notice and I got a little jealous. These people got to do some really cool things and I was just staying in my room all day. So I decided to go out and join some clubs at the last minute and got elected to a couple leadership positions. And that’s where it all started.”

By his second semester freshman year, Paige was a student senator representing scholarship halls. He won a seat the next year with the Ad Astra coalition, and was selected to be development director.

In his sophomore year, he was headed for more change. The petroleum engineering curriculum requires many courses in geology. Once Paige started taking geology classes, his eyes were opened to a new opportunity.

Marquise Paige on a geology field trip in the St. Francois Mountains in southeast Missouri. -Photo credit: Diane Silver
Marquise Paige on a geology field trip in the St. Francois Mountains in southeast Missouri. -Photo credit: Diane Silver

“I actually didn’t know geology existed before coming to college,” he said.

He switched majors right away. As a geology major, Paige has had a lot of new experiences: camping, research and climbing the tallest mountain in Missouri.

Nearly every geology course involves a field trip. Often, groups of 30-40 people go on these trips, traveling in a caravan of big vans, spending their days and even their nights outside.

Paige has traveled to Utah, Wyoming, Colorado, Missouri and other parts of Kansas.

“I’d never camped prior to geology. So it was an experience. At first I didn’t like it because I’m used to all the bathroom amenities and sleeping in my bed and I hate bugs. So it was an adjustment,” Paige said. “I still don’t like bugs or spiders, but I deal with it. And the camaraderie makes it really fun to go on these trips. You become best friends with the people you go on your trips with.”

As he nears graduation, Paige has made an additional discovery: a passion for research. In December, he started a research project with Bob Goldstein, distinguished professor of geology, for his senior thesis project. Paige had originally planned to use graduate school as a launching pad to go into the professional work force. Now, however, he’s beginning to consider a career in academia because he’s intrigued by the opportunity to do more research. He plans to use his time in graduate school to consider his future path.

When Paige walks down the Hill on May 17 carrying the banner for the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, he will represent the range of opportunities made possible by a KU education. To him, his experience at KU extends far beyond the credentials of a degree.

“College is a time for self-discovery and growth,” Paige said. “Many people think it’s to get a college degree but that’s just a product. You get so much more out of it.”