Why did you choose the Geography program at SU?
I needed to declare a major my freshman year because of my credits. I had an intro GEO class and I liked professors Mosher and Wilson and they encouraged me to major in it. I had environmental policy interests and Geography was the closest I could get without transferring to ESF (Environmental Science & Forestry). The major married nicely with my minor in Native American Studies and dual Major in Policy Studies.
After SU Geography
Where do you work? How did you end up there?
I am currently substituting in Bakersfield, CA. I completed my two year commitment with Teach For America in New Mexico in May 2014 and moved to CA to be closer to my boyfriend. I taught first and second grade on the Navajo Nation and lived in a teacherage during that time. My students were wonderful and I remain in close contact with them still. They have a beautiful language and culture. I will be applying to MPA programs for the 2015-2016 school year.
I also do phone interviews for admissions into Teach For America part-time. This stemmed from my desire to stay involved as an alumni and peek into how TFA is choosing candidates and how we might find some more compatible corps members for Native regions.
What geography skills do you use at your work?
My students love maps because I love maps. I was able to translate that enthusiasm and it was fun to see them get excited over a new discovery and come show me. Thinking spatially is also a concern when it comes to social issues. Sometimes people forget about the logistics of social organizing, ie- Are there roads for this? What condition are they in? What’s the history of that area? Wanting to get change done involves introducing yourself and learning about a community and its history.
Lessons learned as a Geography major & Advice to undergrads
What was the most useful class during undergrad?
GEO383, GIS – because it taught me how to think socially and spatially at the same time. I saw how images can affect how someone displays or hides information. It’s made me very critical of maps that I see now and what point the maker is trying to get across.
What programs helped prepare you for the future outside of class?
I was a part of Alpha Phi Omega, a co-ed community service fraternity. I got a lot of experience volunteering in the community and getting to know Syracuse better. Those experiences helped frame my context for some classes. I also was awarded an Udall Foundation scholarship for my work in tribal policy and interest in natural resource protection. It’s a great program that anyone with an environmental focus and experiences can apply for.
Any advice for undergrads?
Go to class. Take good notes, and keep them. Get involved any way you can. Get meaningful leadership experience that you can commit to for a longer period of time. Don’t let your summers go to waste- work, or apply for internships!
I’ve eaten Narwhal. It was with Inuit women in the hamlet of Clyde River, Nunavut during a trip to the arctic I was granted through an internship with NSF. Seriously, apply for internships.