Campus News

Geography: Roadmap to Success

By: Erin Schlosser – Copy Editor

In the age of technology, people rely heavily on their iPhones and GPS systems to get from point A to point B. Think about it: when’s the last time you ventured somewhere new and didn’t use a maps app to help you get there?

No judgment, we all do it, but have you ever stopped to think about what you’d do if no one took the time to create those maps for you to follow? You have those who studied geography to thank for helping you reach your desired destinations.

The major of geography seems to have a bad rap: it’s one of those degrees that seem to pop up all too often on Buzzfeed articles about majors you’ll regret declaring. It is actually a much more expansive field of study than people realize.

Geography itself is the study of places and relationships between people and their environment. By definition, it may sound like a narrow field, but this is not the case. A degree in geography, or even a few classes to fill the required University Core Curriculum (UCC), can help to mold a well-rounded professional, ready to take on the workforce after graduation.

“You won’t find a job called ‘geographer,’” said Professor Thomas Owusu. “You have to look at it in terms of skills.”

Geography classes offered on campus instill vital skills necessary to thrive in any work environment. Computer literacy, problem solving, observation and data collection are just some of the basic skills students pick up in geography classes.

Students can easily explore geography classes and all they have to offer, while working their way towards the 120 credits necessary to graduate. The geography department offers a dozen classes to fulfill UCC requirements. If students wish to add a minor, geography makes a great option; courses to reach the required 18 credits compliment the Political Science major, Communications major and more seamlessly.

Geography majors at William Paterson are rare; the class of 2016 had only three students graduating with a B.A. in Geography or Geography Information Systems, the two degrees offered.  This makes for a more personal relationship between professor and student.

While presenting on careers in geography last Wednesday in University Commons, Professor Ben Liu spoke fondly of each of the 2016 graduates. He was familiar with all three’s current careers and radiated pride as he spoke of their success.

Charles Gaito, a 2012 alumnus, was in a larger group of graduates: one of eight. He also spoke at last Wednesday’s event, offering a student’s perspective on just how much you can do with a geography degree.

Gaito is now working for the New York Power Authority as a geography information systems (GIS) specialist.

GIS is the latest marvel of geography; William Paterson offers a bachelor’s degree for students interested. When asked to define what GIS is, Gaito stated simply, “Google Maps.” It is used to create all sorts of technological plots, from that map-filled control room in your favorite action movie to the maps on the latest Call of Duty game.

With an understanding of GIS, students can land careers in virtually any field.

“You’d be amazed at how easy it is to get into app development with GIS,” Gaito said. “From the environment to politics, geography has a finger in everything.”

courtesy geography department

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