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Department of Geography and Geographic Information Sciences

Alyssa Hoog

Geography Student Profile

September 2021

Why did you decide to major in Geography?

            Growing up as an Army brat, I can remember being fascinated with the places and people around me.  Like many geographers before me, geography was not on my initial radar.  I received my first college degree in commercial/portrait photography from which I embarked on a fifteen-year Americana photography journey.  In my mid-thirties, I decided to pursue a new path of academia.  I transferred to SIUE from SWIC as an environmental science minor.  As confessed by many a geographer, I had no idea about geography!  After taking my first class that first semester, I quickly realized that I was a born geographer and that this was the program for me.  I have a deep passion for understanding the Earth’s processes and human interactions, the cultural landscape, and the theories behind geographical thought.  Through my geography education, the world and its cultures have come alive, cultivating in me the knowledge and skills to make a difference in any career path I choose. 

What do you like about the SIUE Department of Geography?

            I remember walking in the geography department for the first time and immediately feeling a strong sense of belonging, a strong sense of place.  What I love the most about this department is the faculty’s dedication to students and to spatial thinking.  Every professor and faculty member I have met and worked alongside brings vibrancy, honesty, and dedication to their area of interest. These values shine most bright and are reflected in their teaching styles.  The computer lab, software and programs, and other analysis tools are industry current and readily available.  The investment into academic excellence through instruction and techniques is world class, I’m so proud to be part of such an exciting discipline and department!

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

            Hard question!  Each course has its own unique set of challenges and insights.  This discipline is so exciting because of its interdisciplinary nature, no matter what you are interested in, there is some type of geographic thought or theory behind it.  Cartography and Introduction to GIS were foundational classes that allowed me to explore both my spatial analysis abilities in conjunction and my visual art. Geomorphology and Cultural Landscapes are among my favorite classes I’ve taken, the former for the pure physical geography side and the latter for the cultural side.  Every class I take opens a little more of the world, and I find myself constantly using my knowledge gained in my everyday life and daily interactions.  

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

            Opportunities for involvement in the department are plentiful!  I am an active member in both Geography Club and Gamma Theta Upsilon, the international geographic honor society, the former to which I was a past president and current treasurer.  GTU provides its members with geography fellowship, scholarship, and continued academic and professional support.  As a student outreach assistant with GTU, I serve as a bridge between members within our regional division and the national office.  COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions have somewhat dampened club activities this past year, but we are back and excited to resume the fun! 

 What internships have you had?  Why do you think an internship is important?

            While I have not been involved with internships outside of the department, I have been involved with faculty-led research projects looking at food accessibility in the St. Louis region and classroom accessibility within the bounds of SIUE.  As a graduate student, I work within two areas of geography, as a teaching assistant in the department and as a spatial analysist and mine subsidence surveyor through the GeoMARC.  Through my work in these areas, I have gained invaluable insights and experiences into various areas of geographical studies that perspective employers not only seek but demand.  I do know of many classmates who have had internships at various geospatial agencies around the area including the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency, Continental Mapping, and various regional governmental and private agencies.  I know that the internships, research opportunities and graduate assistantships are an important part of the learning experience and that the education that SIUE geography students gain is valued and sought out my many employers throughout the region and the world. 

What kind of career would you like to pursue?

            I find myself most interested about subject matter found at the intersection of environmental justice and biogeography.  My master’s thesis will look at the role of the Smokey Bear campaign and our idea of spaces and places within our national forest and public lands. While I hope to work in the field of forestry someday, I am most excited about pursuing my doctoral degree and teaching, utilizing my photography and geography skills, at the college level.  I have always found enjoyment and satisfaction in helping others achieve their goals, and I would love nothing more than to give back to others what I have received, a sense of knowledge and power that can help shape the world for the better.


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