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Where are they now?
SNR "Alumni Spotlight: Staying Grounded" by Elyse Watson
While some of our past graduates like to look up to the sky, Brian Baskerville, a 2013 masters graduate in geography, knows it’s important to stay grounded.
“I attended graduate school at UNL to become a geographer. After several years trying to combine history, politics, economics, and natural resources into one field, I discovered that geography could do that for me. Although I'm a physical geographer in both training and trade, I believe my real interests are in human geography and geopolitics,” Baskerville said about why he chose geography.
Throughout his time here, Baskerville not only succeeded in academics, he was extremely active in on-campus activities. President of both the UNL Geography Student Organization president and Gamma Theta Upsilon Geography Honor Society, he also participated in the Great Plains National Security Education Consortium (IC Scholar), Golden Key International Honor Society, and the SNR Student Association. When asked about what helped him be so successful here in the School of Natural Resources, he pointed to four faculty that made big impacts.
So what is Baskerville up to today? He is currently the technology coordinator for Area 1, the western third of Nebraska, for the Natural Resources Conservation Service.
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Mele Koneya developed maps for Fire Headquarters, Emergency Operations Center, and Hydrant maps for Scottsdale, Arizona. The maps were featured in the Esri Map Book.
"As part of my conference experience," Koneya said, "people asked how I got into this field. I told them it all started in Nebraska and UNL was key to my success. I am very proud of how my Geography background at UNL has led to my GIS career."
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John Jackson IV: "I graduated from UNL in December 2013 with a degree in geography. Upon graduating, I was interning at GIS Workshop Inc. as a GIS Technician Intern in Lincoln while waiting for admission to graduate school for the fall of 2014. I attended the University of Oregon for graduate school, and received a masters in Community and Regional Planning from UO in June 2016. While at UO, I interned with the US Department of Transportation - Federal Transit Administration. I received a job offer right before graduation from engineering firm AECOM in Los Angeles, CA and was with AECOM for a year and a half before obtaining another position at a smaller firm in Downtown Los Angeles as an Environmental Planner. I attribute my success thus far in my career to what I learned in geography department at UNL as well as the connections and tools I obtained in order to succeed. My academic advisor at CAS played a big part in that success and I owe her everything for that. I love the geography department at UNL, and owe people like Dr. Wishart everything. They are truly an important and meaningful part of what makes the department and CAS special."
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Brooke Bolin: "I loved my time at UNL in the Geography program. The classes and professors helped me discover who I am and my curiosity for the world. I'm employed with City of Lincoln Parks and Recreation and work on prairie restoration. Geography plays a part in my job by using GIS, GPS and other tools to monitor the status of prairies. Personally, geography makes me want to learn new things every day about the world around me. Thank you, UNL Geography!"
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Kevin Pflager: "I love the UNL geography program. It has given me a passion to learn and shown me what I want to do with my life. I can honestly say I don't know where I would be without geography."
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Jacob Lambert, a senior global studies, political science and geography triple major, will be working with Teach for America.
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Major Rolando Perez graduated from UNL in 2005. He commissioned as an Air Battle Manager in the USAF, and has served on several platforms utilizing the geographic knowledge he obtained at UNL. He has over 2,200 flight hours aboard the E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (JSTARS) aircraft serving as an Air Weapons Officer (AWO), Sensor Management Officer (SMO) and Senior Director (SD). As a SMO, Maj Perez utilizes the remote sensing/GIS/cartographic skills he learned in UNL's Geography Department in the application of a Moving Target Indicator/Synthetic Aperture Radar. Those same skills were applied managing/piloting the ScanEagle UAS in combat operations.
As a Senior Director and Wing Plans Officer, he actively applied skills obtained through physical, cultural and urban geography classes.
Maj Perez has nine deployments in support of OPERATIONS IRAQI FREEDOM, ENDURING FREEDOM, NEW DAWN and INHERENT RESOLVE.
His history as a secondary educator through UNL enabled him to become an Air Force flight instructor and evaluator in minimum time. Those skills enabled him to graduate the United States Marine Corps Weapons and Tactics Instructor Course, where he has served as a joint augment instructor.
Maj Perez currently serves as the chief of Air Battle Manager training at the 129th Combat Training Squadron at Robins AFB, GA. In these duties, he instructs and evaluates over 100 student AWOs, SMOs, and SDs annually as a full-time member of the Georgia Air National Guard.
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Jesslyn Brown: "I was conferred the degree Master of Arts in Geography from UNL in December, 1990. That degree, so valuable to me, led directly to an incredibly interesting and fulfilling career in Geography. In my current position, I have the title "Research Geographer" with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), Department of Interior. I have worked at the same USGS facility since I started here as an intern while pursuing my degree in Lincoln.
"My geography professors at UNL provided me not only with a fantastic base of knowledge of the field (the theory and application of Geography) but also taught a way of looking at life through the geographic lens, where space and location are valuable information to expand understanding of how the world works. In my career, I have been a contributing member on diverse projects involved in mapping the world's land cover, monitoring the impacts of drought across the United States, characterizing spatial change and related water use in irrigated agriculture, and tracking seasonal dynamics in natural vegetation. I have collaborated with many esteemed colleagues from different disciplines and traveled across the world to share research results. I have no doubt that my degree from UNL in Geography was extremely instrumental in my career.
"I feel fortunate to have chosen Geography as my career path. A recent Editorial in The Guardian says that Geography is soaring in popularity in this era, that it is "a subject for our times" and is inherently multidisciplinary "in a world that increasingly values people who have the skills needed to work across the physical and social sciences." They also state that because of the broadness of geographic study, Geographers are "eminently employable". I have absolutely found this to be true myself."
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Bob Harding ('86) reflects on how Nebraskaland Magazine enticed him to attend Nebraska—and where it led afterward.