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Alumna Finds Value in Meteorology

September 2018

Margaret_McCallaMargaret McCalla,C'76, is a meteorologist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Her job at NOAA is to compare what the forecast said with what actually happened. She looks at how much difference there is and tries to figure out why there is a difference and how to fix it. 

Despite the initial culture shock, McCalla left Los Angeles, California to attend Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia on an engineering scholarship. She later changed her major to physics. However, she did not want to pursue a masters degree in the subject. 

She began searching for a career where she could combine her interests in math, physics and geology which eventually led to her pursuing a graduate degree in meteorology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

With a career in meteorology, she didn't mind the difficult math and physics she struggled with as an undergrad. Instead, she did everything required to become a meteorologist. 

As a scientist working for the government, McCalla has found a practical application of science studying hydrological and meteorological information and how that impacts public health and safety.

"Because I work for the government, we are very much interested in the impact of what you do has on the public is somewhat different to other scientists who may not work for the federal government.

"There is very little that you do that is not effected by the weather," says McCalla, and that makes her feel valued.

"Spelman really prepared me for graduate school and prepared me for life. It prepared me because I knew coming from Spelman I could do anything. That’s what was instilled in us; and when I went to grad school, even though I knew it was hard, I never really thought about giving up because I can succeed. I know I can do this. Someone can choose to knock you down, but you choose to pick yourself up and go on."

Click here to learn more about her journey. 

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