IESA regularly features graduates from its ESA B.S. and Certificate programs in its "Alumni Focus." Because our graduates are hired for public and private sector jobs and accepted to graduate schools at a very high rate, we wanted to highlight these outstanding students and find out what made their experiences at UNG so unique.
Carol Kraemer (UNG '11) - GIS Volunteer and Consultant
Which concentration did you follow in your AESA degree?
Were you a traditional or non-traditional student?
What job did you hold before coming to UNG?
Before returning to IESA, I was working for Jordan, Jones & Goulding (now Jacobs), a civil engineering firm. I started as an intern there in 2002 after receiving my GIS certificate and worked my way to a Senior GIS Analyst before deciding to pursuing the ESA degree.
What was your primary motivation for earning the AESA degree?
My main motivation came from hearing several times that I would need a 4-year degree to break through the ceiling I found myself up against with only having a GIS certificate and 2-year degree. The secondary motivation was to explore other options. I needed to change things up and created a new adventure in my effort to find personal and professional growth.
Where you are currently volunteering and what do you do at the organization?
Last year, I made a decision to put more energy into volunteerism. I have been a volunteer, later becoming a Core Committee member, with the GISCorps for 5+ years. Since October, I have been splitting my time between volunteering and consulting on an Ebola response project supporting NetHope. Myself and other GISCorps volunteers have been creating and gathering data for the purpose of mapping information and communication needs of NGOs in West Africa to match them with donor contributions. This mission will be completed at the end of April. I also supported the initial relief effort in March after Typhoon Pam hit the island nation of Vanuatu in the Pacific Ocean.
Is this your first job after graduating?
It is not. As mentioned, I began my GIS career as an intern at JJG. Since then, I have worked within IESA as a Geospatial Technologies Research Associate supporting faculty, staff, and, most importantly, my fellow students. I then worked as a GIS consultant at North River Geographics and then at GISCorps. I am currently exploring career opportunities for my next adventure now that the demands of the Ebola response effort have, thankfully, declined.
Describe the most challenging or enjoyable project you have worked on since graduating that involved geospatial technology.
Honestly, there are so many examples I could list here. I find challenges enjoyable. My passion is empowering others with knowledge and finding ways to convey that knowledge in a way that makes sense to my audience. To this day, the most rewarding example of this was my experience working with student Efren Chavez. At the time, he was enrolled in a Geology course. The challenge presented to me was the need to create a special topographic map to teach him the concepts before his test. The reason this was a challenge was that Efren is visually impaired and he expressed the desire to have a similar learning experience as his fellow students. Together with Efren, his Geology professor - Dr. Mobasher, an assistant - Derek Robertson, and support from Efren’s high school teacher - Sheila McCleary, a two-layer tactile topographic map was designed, created, and eventually presented. This opportunity definitely helped me to look at data visualization in an entirely new way and something for which I will forever be grateful.
What are the top three skills that you acquired in the program that have helped you in your current position?
My situation was unique because I had been working as a GIS professional for several years before coming back for the ESA degree so what I feel I learned during my time spent working toward the ESA degree may seem odd. First, I think people, particularly students, forget, even within a structured environment such as college, that they have the power to create their own path and explore their limits while doing so. I chose to push my limits in many ways that went beyond what I learned in the classroom but was only possible because of the unique opportunity I had. For this reason, I would have to say that my top three skills acquired were:
Learning how to and the importance of networking for professional development;
Becoming a better listener so that I can better understand the needs of others;
Gaining further awareness of the importance of team building to learn from others and become a stronger, more knowledgeable unit.
Thank you for the honor of choosing me. My time at IESA was special and that is because of the faculty, staff, and students I met while there. I’m thankful for my time with them and the many things I learned from them all.
Thanks, Carol, for taking the time to answer our questions!