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joey romero
More Than I Imagined Seniors reflect on accomplishments and look ahead

​Joey Romero

Graduation year: 2015

Majors: Biology, geology, Spanish for professional use

Activities: Zeta Phi Kappa sorority (honorary member), Beta Beta Beta, Sigma Gamma Epsilon, Phi Beta Kappa, UNYK Multicultural Dance Troupe, Udden Geology Club

Post-grad plans: Geosciences Ph.D. program at Arizona State University within the School of Earth and Space Exploration

Why did you choose Augustana?

Several factors contributed to me choosing Augie as my undergraduate college. Firstly, its offer of a 3-4 pre-veterinary medicine program with the University of Illinois seemed extremely promising in paving my way to vet school. Besides academics, however, Augustana just gave me that “right” feeling after visiting. Its gorgeous campus provided the aesthetic side, and its small size provided an opportunity to achieve a more personal relationship with my professors. The positivity that radiated off of both students and faculty during my campus visit only solidified what would prove to be an incredible college experience.

Are you where you thought you'd be four years ago?

Not at all. I had always had my mind set on becoming a vet, which was one of the main reasons for choosing Augustana. After getting more hands-on veterinary experience, however, I decided it wouldn’t be the right path for me after all. Both my friends and my professors helped me through this identity crisis, and I ended up coming out of the situation stronger than ever. I stuck with my passion for biology, discovered a passion for geology, and added to my passion for foreign language. Though these three majors aren’t where I would have pictured myself my first year, I wouldn’t change the choices I’ve made because of all of the fantastic opportunities they’ve provided me with.

Who helped you get to where you are now?

The leadership of my professors and their continual support as I evolved as a person was an integral part in shaping where I am now. Despite my change in majors, for example, my biology/pre-vet advisor Dr. Tim Muir never lost interest in me not only as a student but also as a person. The geology faculty, too, like Drs. Jeff Strasser and Mike Wolf, welcomed me to their department with open arms even after my late start in their department. The phenomenal character of my advisors as well as the professors in general at Augustana has shown me how much of a positive effect they have on the lives of their students even if they don’t always realize it.

A peak experience?

The trips I was able to take while at Augie enhanced my experience to a much higher level. Within the Spanish department, studying abroad in Ecuador and Peru broadened my cultural horizons and made more vivid my understanding of the Spanish language as it is used in the real world. Within the geology department, trips to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon provided field-based experiences in different geological environments that were both educational and extremely enjoyable.

What did you learn about yourself in these past four years that surprised you?

Contrary to how I would have identified myself my first year here, I’ve discovered that I am not as introverted as I would have thought. It may be that my real personality had been hidden beneath the surface before Augustana or that I’ve developed a much more personable nature, thanks to my time here at Augie. Regardless, I’ve learned that I don’t need to hide who I am from anyone because of the endless support friends and the community of Augie provides. Living the life that you have to its fullest without giving yourself obstacles to get past is the only way to make the best of who you are.

How did you use your Augie Choice?

I used my Augie Choice to study abroad in Ecuador and Peru the summer after my sophomore year. Besides offering credits towards my Spanish for professional use major, I wanted to be able to immerse myself in the culture of South America and experience what I had been learning in my Spanish courses.

What will you miss the most?

Whether through academics or clubs, I’ll definitely miss seeing all of the friends I’ve made on a weekly, if not daily, basis. Being nominated as the first Zeta Phi Cutie Pie, for example, allowed me to be a part of Greek life for my last year at Augie while at the same time introducing me to all of the great Zeta ladies that will be part of my family even after graduation. I will also miss the dancers of UNYK and being able to express myself through dance alongside them.

Advice for the Class of 2019?

My advice is not to fret if you aren’t sure what you want to study at Augustana or if you change your mind as you progress through your classes. The path I had originally imagined for myself ended up not being the right fit for me, but Augustana was able to lead me in the direction that was the best after all.

“Joey has had a laser-sharp focus on his lofty triple major goals, and he unwaveringly and good-heartedly succeeded — quite an accomplishment even if he hadn’t done it with such spectacular near-perfect performances. Joey took great advantage of all opportunities, and those opened doors that led to further success. His Carnegie Institution summer research on how mineralogy may influence the molecular precursors to life itself developed into his SI research and enabled his future graduate research path at Arizona State University. Joey certainly has made the most of his time at Augie!”


- Dr. Mike Wolf, professor, geology