As a geography and political science major, I wanted to gain internship experience to help build my resume for graduate school. My former geography advisor once told me that being skilled in using Geographic Information Systems would make me more marketable to prospective employers and set me apart from my peers (in hindsight, this was probably the best piece of advice given to me during undergrad). Though I struggled through the technicalities of a formal GIS training class, I decided to take my advisor up on his advice and applied to SCG in hopes of becoming proficient in GIS. Through my internship, I learned to spatially analyze the patterns that emerge from the relationship between people and place using GIS. I was able to provide a geographic perspective to the goals and initiatives of community organizations to positively affect change and promote social justice, community and economic development, and public health in the Syracuse area. The spatial representations increased participation among community members, which proved to be critical in successful planning and implementation of public policy.
My internship with SCG was truly influential in shaping my professional interests and desire to pursue a graduate degree in urban planning. I obtained a Master’s degree in City & Regional Planning at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. I wrote my Master’s thesis on a spatial analysis of prisoner reentry in Durham County, North Carolina, which was influenced by the Syracuse Justice Mapping Project that I worked on while interning at SCG. I am currently employed as a Community Planner at the North Carolina Department of Transportation, where I use the spatial and demographic analysis skills I learned at SGC on a daily basis. The primary focus of my work is to assess community impacts created by NCDOT’s transportation projects, and in cooperation with local communities, develop plans to help minimize and/or mitigate these impacts.