Alumni Spotlight: Morgan Geile
Alumni Spotlight: Morgan Geile
By Kala Allen-Dunn | Nov 28, 2023
Morgan Geile is a 2013 Murray State graduate who is leading a fascinating life as a sustainability professional. After living abroad for six years, she returned to her hometown of St. Louis to make a lasting difference for her community. Meet Morgan!
Tell us a little about yourself.
I live in St. Louis (where I'm from) with my cat Gobi (like the desert, not the fish) and I work in sustainability strategy at the local electric and gas utility. I graduated Murray State in 2013 with a Bachelors in Conservation Biology which was the formal way to pursue my interests in the environment and sustainability. My time at Murray State outside of classes was filled with intramural sports, student government (as a Hester College rep), rowing team practices and regattas, hanging out in the lab with other student researchers and salamanders collected from local ponds, and spending time with friends. These days I like to travel, hang out in coffee shops, spending time outside, and I'm involved with several groups around St. Louis working to further sustainable efforts in a variety of spaces.
Why did you choose Murray State?
I chose Murray State because of the updated Biology Department (brand new at the time) and the Hancock Biological Station, as I knew I wanted to be involved in a lab, work with graduate students, and be involved in undergraduate research and lab opportunities. In addition, the campus size (walkable), in-state discount (not far from St. Louis) and automatic scholarships made it very attractive and affordable. The 3.5 hour drive from home was just far enough to feel like I was on my own, but not too bad to visits back home on occasion. I was fortunate to be able to be a part of a lab and even conducting my own undergraduate research all four years, a couple through the BioMaPS Program (which included the opportunity to conduct field work in Colorado each summer). I loved it so much I even came back for a 5th summer of field work after graduation to keep participating and supporting the ongoing research! I was hoping Murray would be a great school for what I was looking for, and it went above and beyond my expectations.
What have you been up to since graduation? What exciting or fulfilling things are happening in your life?
Senior year of undergrad I studied abroad in Budapest as part of the Honors Program, and used the connections I made there to move to Germany for a gap year after graduation. I taught English to college-aged students and ended up staying in Germany another two years to earn a Masters in Renewable Energy Engineering and Management. I moved to the Netherlands shortly after classes to write my thesis on low-carbon transportation and inequalities in urban settings. I learned I have an affinity and enjoyment for languages and picked up a lot of German and Dutch during my time in Europe. While I was writing my thesis in the Netherlands, I worked at an IKEA which meant I got very good at understanding some Dutch phrases included "where can I get a cart" and of course "how do I get out of here?!". After I completed my Masters degree, I worked as a sustainability consultant in the Netherlands where I got my first experiences helping large companies understand various impacts they and their products have on the environment (related to carbon, waste, energy usage etc), and worked with them to develop strategies to reduce impacts and become more sustainable in the long run. After 6 years in Europe, I moved back home to St. Louis where I now work at the local electric and gas utility, also supporting sustainability strategy development and implementation. I'm the one that now helps write water reduction goals, coordinate data tracking for setting waste minimization targets, and develop plans to engage with and build a more diverse, equitable, and reliable supply chain - all while continuing to supply safe, affordable, and reliable energy to our customers. I consider it my dream job. Although, when I was in undergrad, a career as a sustainability professional wasn't really a thing, so it became my dream job over time. I encourage students to think about that when they are deciding what they want to study or do in life: how can you prepare not only for jobs that currently exist, but also the ones that will be in demand in 10 years.
How has the Honors experience made a difference in your life?
The honors program had a wonderful community of students from many study disciplines that I might not otherwise have had the chance to meet and learn from. I really enjoying the activities we did together on campus, and I've even had the chance to visit a couple post-graduation (where they were living in Switzerland!) as we remained somewhat in touch. The honors program made my studies more diverse as there were some additional classes included in the programming I wouldn't have otherwise taken which encouraged me to think in different ways, as well as the study abroad opportunities. Studying abroad is how I was able to make the connections and build the interest in living in Europe for 6 years after graduation. Talk about life-changing! I can't say enough how pivotal and impactful being in the honors program was for my time at Murray State, as well as life after graduation, for all of the additional opportunities it created for me. I am happy to be giving back to the program via the Honor Roll, as I got so much from it during my time in Murray!
What's your favorite Murray State memory?
The thing that flashes up most is how colorful my planner was during my time at Murray State. This is a fond memory for me because it is a reminder of how involved I was during my time there. My dorm was just for sleeping because I was constantly bopping around to study in the library, catch up with friends at the coffee shop, workout at the wellness center, representing at a student government meeting at the Curris Center, out on Kentucky Lake at rowing practice, at the Bio Building helping out with tutoring sessions or working in the lab, hanging out with friends, participating in an intramural sport, or joining an Honors Program meeting (and so much more!). There were so many ways to get involved and be growing and learning about yourself at Murray State that that is what sticks with me when I think back on my time there.
What advice would you give to current students?
The biggest advice I give any student I see is to know that "Your education is what you make it". That is, if you just show up for class and go home, you won't get much out of it. Be brave and reach out to ask the questions on your mind, and engaged with your teachers and professors on how you can get more involved; and then actually get involved in opportunities they suggest for you. Participate in clubs and sports teams, learn about yourself by trying new social groups and having novel experiences, and use the time to build a network of friends and future professional connections, on top of diving into your studies. You will come out of there with so much more than a degree on a piece of paper! When you sit down for that first job interview, you will have so much more to talk about than just going to class and passing tests.