Alumni Stories

Student success is our top priority. Here you’ll find insight from our alumni including why they chose to pursue GIS at UWF, impressions of our program, and how learning GIS has prepared them to make a difference in the world.

Jack Gibson, 2013 Alumnus

I was first introduced to GIS while studying Archaeology as an undergraduate. After graduating I decided on a career in GIS and enrolled in UWF’s graduate certificate program. In three semesters I went from being a GIS amateur to being a GIS expert. At the programs end, I felt comfortable with essentially any GIS task from basic editing to complex analysis. I’m able to discuss the functions, the potential and the limitations of GIS with ease, and I am confident interviewing for positions with formerly daunting requirements. As a part of my final semester I began interning for Orange County Public Works GIS section. After graduation Public Works decided to keep me onboard and I have since been hired as a full time GIS Technician. I intend to continue honing my GIS skills, earn ESRI Certification, become a GISP, and climb the ladder of success. UWF’s GIS program was my first rung.

Updated February, 2015

Lynne Johnson, 2013 Alumna

My interest in GIS was peaked due to a significant career change. I completed my undergrad degree in 2007 with a BS in Communication & Journalism but my true passion lies with marine conservation. Without going back to school for a second degree, getting my foot in the door in marine conservation seemed daunting. While dream job searching, I was noticing a trend. GIS. Read More

Updated: February 2014

Kevin Shortelle, 2011 Alumnus

My initial interest in GIS technology stemmed from my company’s need to orthorectify aerial imagery from the autonomous drones that we were developing for the Government. With my background in developing navigation algorithms for military customers, I was already well-versed in working with map projections and geographic and planar coordinate systems. Read More

Updated: March 2012

Tom Holby, 2010 Alumnus

My background was not in GIS, I had an undergrad degree in Communication, and I decided I wanted to enter a new career field. I was interested in maps, and that's how I found out about GIS. At the start of the certificate, my wife was in the Army and we were living in Korea, so I was definitely looking for an online program. I thought I'd like GIS, but having never used it before, I wasn't sure. Read More.

Updated: May 2012

Kong Lei, 2011 Alumnus

All the projects and assignments are practical and meaningful, and we put them onto the student blog for illustration, which can instantly impress our boss, colleagues and friends. Now I can create useful and visually-pleasing thematic maps. The outcome and feedback are always promising and encouraging. Last but not least, we had strong support from instructors and we learned a lot from other students as well. My sincere thanks to UWF!

P. Hunter Key, 2011 Alumnus

The UWF GIS program definitely expedited my career in GIS! Entering the program I had experience in editing and some cartography, however the program provided scenarios, projects and examples to enhance my personal resources dramatically in solving spatial problems in my organization. The intensity and time line of the program allowed me to develop and apply new GIS skill in my job which in turn, jump started my advancement. The educational GIS base and specific tool and analysis exposure is ideal for any individual interested in elevating their GIS skill from software user to professional practitioner. Thanks UWF!

Diane Redwitz, 2011 Alumna

Attending this program not only taught me GIS skills, but I also gained confidence in my life skills. The discussion boards helped let me know that I was not the only person having a problem with some skills but it seemed that most of the time I was stumbling on something that most of the other students were. I am 59 years old and it's gratifying to know that I can still do excellent work as well as keep up with the younger generation. I loved sharing my stories as well hearing other students GIS stories. Using the ESRI extensions was a great plus because in local government they never purchase the extensions because of budget constraints. This allowed me to show management how useful the tool would be in our application. I am glad the new version of ESRI software includes analysis tools. I thought Remote Sensing would not be helpful to me but I was wrong. There are instances when software cannot classify features as well as a manual method. It expanded my knowledge about aerial interpretation. The light waves and some other things are still fuzzy to me but I intend to do more reading on the subject. I really enjoyed this class and have made many friends throughout this experience.

Angela Matusik, 2012 Alumna

The Certificate courses plunged right in from the beginning and kept a brisk pace to cover as much as possible while also allowing for more in-depth projects. For a newbie to GIS, the details of learning to use ArcGIS were incredibly important and were well-explained. As proficiency was gained in one area, new tools and/or skills were introduced. Process Summaries were required for each exercise in order to assist if there were any problems but also as a record of what was done for future reference. Support was strong among the cohort of students as well as from the instructors.

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