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NMU grad heading to Colorado for position with U.S. Geological Survey

Allison Opheim

MARQUETTE — Allison Opheim graduated from Northern Michigan University with the assurance of a new job as a communications and public affairs contractor with the U.S. Geological Survey in Fort Collins, Colorado.

She said working for a federal agency fresh out of college might have seemed a daunting prospect at one time, but she now considers herself fully prepared.

“Northern gives students the flexibility to select their own path,” said Opheim, a native of Oshkosh, Wisconsin. “It’s about much more than going to class. My professors were very supportive and I had so many opportunities to get involved and apply my interests through extracurricular activities and internships.

“All of that combined to make me ready to step into a role that might have seemed overwhelming before. And I’m leaving with the belief I can go out into the real world and make a positive impact.”

Opheim will receive a bachelor’s degree in public relations with a minor in pre-law. She plans a move to Fort Collins in January to assume her new role with the U.S. Geological Survey.

“The USGS is headquartered in (Washington,) D.C., but the focus in Colorado is on social science,” she said. “I will be helping to manage an expansive database that allows agencies at the national, state and local levels — from the National Park Service to the DNR — to share what they’re working on related to research and participation in conferences and events.”

As a student, Opheim completed an internship in NMU’s marketing and communications office, where she launched the “What Makes a Wildcat” video series and assisted with various digital marketing channels. She also secured a summer internship with the National 4-H Council in Washington, D.C., helping high school students identify issues and develop talking points to deliver effective messages to representatives and senators on Capitol Hill.

Her extracurricular activities also included organizing NMU’s TEDx talks for the past two years. Opheim participated in the NMU Honors Program, Student Leader Fellowship Program, house government for the former Halverson Hall and the Student Law Forum.

Through the honors program, Opheim was awarded a Lundin Summer Research Fellowship.

“I worked with (public relations) professor Jes Thompson to put together an easy-to-use toolkit for any science organization, large or small, on using social media to raise funds or self-advocate,” Opheim said. “PR professor Tom Isaacson was also helpful. I met with him when I first came to Northern because I was interested in PR’s emphasis on fostering long-term loyalty to organizations and he shared information about the curriculum, related extracurricular activities and what some alumni are doing in the field.”

Opheim said she would like to attend law school at some point in the near future, but in the meantime is eager to embark on her new adventure with the USGS.