Every month of every year, the AAPG Foundation leadership team actively asks themselves: What can we do to make tomorrow better than today?
After all, creating those pathways forward is at the core of its entire mission – the Foundation strives to ensure a better future for geoscience education, public engagement and scientific activities.
But in building a better tomorrow, sometimes it’s necessary to take a look back – and, in this case, with gratitude.
And Foundation’s Deana and Paul Strunk Military Veterans Scholarship Program was created specifically to thank and financially aid industry-aspiring U.S. military veterans for their years of service and sacrifice.
Each year, the Foundation awards $2,500 and $5,000 scholarships to veterans and/or their dependents to cover the costs of attending a four-year accredited college or university as they transition to a civilian life in the geosciences.
And the time to remember and reward is here – applications are now being accepted for the current MVSP season. The application deadline is May 15.
“It is often not easy for a veteran who has been out of academics for several years to come back to the classroom and start over,” said Foundation Chair Jim McGhay. “Through this program, each year we have the pleasure and honor of providing support to people who have personally sacrificed years of their lives for a greater cause.
“These are intelligent, creative and dedicated individuals who now are looking to make a difference for their family, community and society through their love of the earth and the geosciences,” he said.
“We could not be more proud of the MVSP,” McGhay added. “It is one of our most popular programs based on its many generous contributors, and also one that is uniquely special in its purpose.”
MVSP scholarships are available to both active U.S. military service members (including National Guard and Reserve) or veterans separated from active military service who have been honorably discharged and who are entering or re-entering a post-secondary undergraduate program in the field of geosciences – either full time or part time.
Eligibility also includes the spouses and children of military veterans who are deceased or disabled, active or veteran.
The funds are intended for costs associated with education, including tuition, fees, books and eligible living expenses.
“We are looking for students who are veterans or dependents, who are highly motivated, engaged in academically rigorous courses of study, and who express a desire for a career in geoscience, whether that is oil and gas, research or whatever discipline they choose,” said MVSP Committee Chair Earl Wells.
“I would say the three critical components that set a candidate apart are their enthusiasm, academic prowess and, obviously, military service,” he added.
“Our goal is to reach a broad pool of qualified candidates – and select the best ones.”
The Passion of a Calling
The Foundation’s MVSP initiative was started in 2015, thanks largely to the vision, promotion and generous contributions from Foundation stalwarts Deana and Paul Strunk.
It was considered a bold and ambitious idea when the Strunks first made their suggestion, but other Foundation supporters who shared that passion soon joined the push toward creation, and today the MVSP has become one of the AAPG Foundation’s most popular programs.
“The MVSP is important to the Foundation and geoscience broadly because it helps to bring new members into the geoscience community while promoting the advancement of science through research and study,” Wells said.
“The big picture is that we need energy, security and a pipeline of qualified candidates,” he continued. “What better way to build a pipeline of candidates to help provide for our energy needs than by supporting the people who spent their lives supporting our security needs?”
And speaking personally …
“I’ve seen many veterans struggle to readjust to civilian life and find meaningful work,” Wells said. “I want to help these folks find their next mission. Selfishly helping them also helps our community as geoscientists in a way that gives back.
“That’s a big win all around.”
Wells, himself a 12-year veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, previously pointed to his and other committee members’ own personal post-military experience as a big reason for support of the program.
“Many of them (committee members) have been forward deployed,” Wells said in late 2021. “They’ve successfully navigated the process of transitioning out of the military and into careers as petroleum geologists – and now they are paying it forward and helping other folks find the ladder.”
Earl, his MVSP committee members and the entire AAPG Foundation stand ready to connect with worthy veterans and their families.
“If anyone knows of a veteran who is interested in a career in the geoscience, please point them in our direction,” McGhay said. “We could not be prouder to offer our support, and we look forward to helping them solve society’s issues through the world of geosciences.”
Additional information about the MVSP, including both application details and also how you can contribute to the scholarship fund, can be found on the AAPG Foundation website, or by contacting [email protected].