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Major: Geology

Graduation Year: 1980

Company: Chevron Corporation (retired)

Activities: Peer counseling program; Alpha Kappa Lambda fraternity

Jason Donchin '80

Jason Donchin
I'm an introvert trained to be an extrovert. But I got that from my UOP experience. It was a nurturing experience that enabled me to do that.

Q: Tell us about your career with Chevron.

A: I was hired to be what they called a development geologist. So, that was to look for oil plays in existing oil fields. My first job was in California working California oil fields down in the San Joaquin Valley and offshore California.

I grew up in the Berkeley area, and most of my friends were environmentalists and so how do you do that juxtaposition, right? Because oil companies had a really bad name in California. So, I really told myself I'll be in a position to have influence. I think I was really lucky working for Chevron (because it) had a culture that supported compliance and in some ways, beyond compliance. So, I was in an environment that allowed me to talk about integrity, trust and community partnership. By the end of my career, I was in a health and environmental safety policy and influence position.

Q: Is it a career you would recommend to geology students?

A: I had a wonderful career. I often believe kids think that they'll have six or seven or eight different jobs in their career and their mindset is that might be with eight different companies. What a large, international oil company provides is eight different careers with growth and expansion in the same company. 

I started as a geologist, right? A development geologist and moved to structural exploration geophysicist, then became an environmental cleanup specialist, hydro-geologist, air toxics specialist, water engineer to a whole series of management positions in health, environment and safety. I did so many different things, it was never boring.

Q: How did Pacific prepare you?

A: I'm an introvert by nature. The environment of UOP, the fact that it was small (gave me) great access to professors, but also I was part of the fraternity system. I learned how to integrate, engage, socialize in a way that I learned to be an extrovert. So, I'm an introvert trained to be an extrovert. But I got that from my UOP experience. It was a nurturing experience that enabled me to do that. That skill set took me right through.

Also, the other thing I did at UOP, I used to be part of the undergraduate peer counseling program where we'd bring (students) in in the summer and we'd have certain kids attached to us as peer counselors through their first year. That taught me a whole set of skill sets in interpersonal communication and nonverbal communication that just was an advantage for me right through my career because it was about how to engage, read and understand people and communicate clearly. 

It's not only the classes you take in your sciences, it's the other stuff that you also do and have the ability to do during university that builds your skill sets. What I think employers look for is the basic education, but they're looking for skill sets (too). And all those other things in addition to geology built my skill sets. 

Q: Do you have a favorite memory from Pacific?

A: Winning Band Frolic. Student organizations used to put together these seven-minute comedy-musical skits and then compete at the music auditorium once a year. I just remember singing on stage, being part of the act and then just winning Band Frolic was just amazing. It's just a college experience. 

I tell you, Gene Pearson was just an incredible professor. He made going to every class enjoyable in the way that he engaged the students. So, I have a very fond memory of that.