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Department of Geography

Alicia Terry

Geography Student Profile


1. Why did you decide to major in Geography?

  • I took an AP Human Geography course in which some of the students and faculty at SIUE came to our school and taught us GIS. I think it was probably because of that class I decided to become a geography major. I had always been attracted to a lot of different subjects in school, including history, physics, chemistry, and psychology, but when it came down to deciding on one subject to pursue professionally, I couldn’t make that decision. Luckily, Geography let me combine all of my favorite subjects and my love of maps all into one. I felt like geography was the best way to do something I love for the rest of my life without becoming bored with my career. After 3 years taking courses, I still feel that way now. 


2. What do you like about the SIUE Department of Geography?

  • SIUE’s Geography Department has a range of faculty and mentors from a wide variety of geography backgrounds and I think that this is one of the departments greatest strengths. Having a diverse knowledge base is an important part of becoming a Geography major. Having faculty from different areas of specialization helps student to approach their research questions from a multitude of different angles in order to develop unique and fresh perspectives and solutions on different topics. Also, because it’s a smaller department, faculty have the time to get to know each of their students to help them follow their individual professional goals. The smaller department makes it easier to network between faculty and people which enables you to have a large support systems of peers and faculty by the time you graduate.  I think another strength too is the dedication each professor has to their work. It’s clear, even from first level courses, that the faculty in the department have a genuine love for what they do and are more than willing to help any student who goes through the program.


3. What is a course you have taken in Geography that you think has been particularly challenging, insightful, or enjoyable? 

  • One of the most challenging and rewarding courses I’ve taken in the department was GEOG422 Remote Sensing at the start of my junior year.  It was one of my first upper level geography courses I took. The concepts of Remote Sensing were fascinating. It was amazing how much information could be revealed through spectral signature alone, and the geospatial analysis of that data was even more interesting. The techniques I learned in that class opened up different set of doors for the direction of my studies in physical geography. The way the class was taught focused heavily on problem solving and practical application that prepared us for the real world application of our geospatial skills. It was a challenge at first to adjust to that kind of instruction. Ultimately, I ended up learning a lot in that course. It taught not only taught the basics of Remote Sensing, but it also helped us to learn a basic understanding of upper level instruction and real world application of our geospatial skills.


4. What opportunities have you had to be involved in Geography Department activities outside of classes?

  • I’ve had quite a few opportunities to be involved with activities with the department’s Geography Club. Because there’s such wide range of people in the department, I have had the opportunity to participate in a variety of activities outside of the classroom. Geography Club annually participates in a river restoration project as part of a local environmental festival, which is a great opportunity for members of the club interested in helping our environment and community. Geography Club also hosts a number of social activities for students to participate in. Most recently, I’ve attended a bowling competition between students and faculty, and an end of the year potluck. These club events have provided a great opportunity for students to get to know each other and bond outside the classroom. 


5. How would you describe your experience doing land surveying work with Kerry Doyle?

  • Exciting! There wasn’t really ever a dull day surveying with Kerry. That might have been because we had a great crew of people who were as dedicated to the work they were doing as they were to having a good time. Kerry’s a rock nerd just like me, so he always had some interesting facts to share about the geography of an area. Working Friday with him was honestly like taking another course in geomorphology because he just had a plethora of information about the area and was always more than willing to share it with us. I remember one time we were on our way back to campus, Kerry and I both caught site of a giant loess cliff that had been cut into the side of a hill. We immediately pulled over to take a pictures of the different exposed soil horizons and the rest of the crew had a good time watching me struggle to not lose both my shoes as I hiked through a surprisingly wet patch ankle deep mud and dirt to get a soil sample from the bottom of the cliff. Ultimately, during my experience with Kerry, I learned a lot of things ranging from field techniques, characteristics of mine subsidence, local history of the area, to a plethora of information on local soils and rocks. I really think this experience proved invaluable to me in my future plans to pursue a career in physical geography.


6. Why do you think an internship is important?

  • Internships are important because they give students the opportunity to apply their skills in real world scenarios and to learn new skills from their work. Experiencing professional work before graduating is a great way to focus on further developing skills necessary to succeed. Interning just for this one summer as a Geospatial Analyst at NGA has helped me build a network of potential future employers, colleagues and mentors that can all help to support both my future academic and career goals.


7. What kind of career would you like to pursue?

  • I would like to pursue a dynamic career in which I have the opportunity to study a wide variety of geographic topics. I would like to pursue a career in geospatial analysis, working with the analysis of earth science phenomena and concepts. I have had the pleasure of shadowing the NGA’s Earth Science team and after talking to a few of the analysts in the branch, and I think afterwards it has become one of my goals to join their analysis team at NGA.
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