Change in Plans Led Tarleton Commencement Speaker to Geoscience Degree

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STEPHENVILLE, Texas — Alexandra Tullos came to Tarleton with a plan.

It did not include falling in love with rocks.

She intended to graduate with a degree in ag education and follow her thought-out career course accordingly. Then she got here and realized another area of study was calling.

Not only will she graduate Saturday with her BS in geoscience with a concentration in environmental science, she will deliver the keynote address at commencement exercises.

“I always thought rocks were dumb, but I knew I wanted to be in environmental management and I wanted a science-based degree,” she said. “Once I started taking rock classes, it turned into something incredibly interesting. It’s fascinating to see how much we can tell about our past, what our world looked like, its composition.”

Alexandra grew up in tiny Hallettsville (pop. 2,700) and was not ready to commit to a big-college town when she graduated high school. “I came to Tarleton a lot for FFA contests,” she said. She changed majors and decided to stay because of the family atmosphere and her professors.

“They are all experts in their field,” she said. “They worked for oil companies or NASA, and they all have pretty impressive résumés. I felt like I was getting the highest quality education I could as a geoscience major.”

That education will continue past her bachelor’s degree. She has been accepted into the master’s program in environmental policy and management at the University of Denver.

“I really want to get into policy consulting or environmental management. There are lots of terms for it, but basically I want to be the person who knows the rules, knows the laws, and helps people or companies keep contaminants out of the air and water.”

Even with altered goals, Tarleton proved to be a natural fit. Alexandra instantly became active on campus, serving as student body vice president, president of Sigma Phi Lambda sorority, a residential leader and a member of the Honors College. She even headed up Homecoming activities as a senior

“Getting to run Homecoming was exhausting but such a rewarding experience,” she said. “Being able to bring together traditions that have always been there and make new ones — I absolutely loved everything, from bonfire to midnight breakfast to yell. All of it. I submerged myself in all of that when I got here, and I’m going to miss it so much.”

Her love of her university home and her major is the basis of her commencement speech.

“It’s going to be about my journey of discovering rocks and how incredibly unique each rock is and how they relate to us as people. We are each molded and shaped into who we are, in some ways by things we can’t control, but in others, unlike rocks, we have the choice to go forward from graduation and do what’s best for us.”

Even if it means changing the plan.

A founding member of The Texas A&M University System, Tarleton transforms generations by inspiring discovery, leadership and inclusion through teaching and research. Degree programs for almost 15,000 students in Stephenville, Fort Worth, Waco, Midlothian, A&M-RELLIS, and online emphasize real-world learning that addresses regional needs while sustaining the values of excellence, integrity and respect.