Tracking the right career path

The field of Geographic Information can not only dig a student into a unique academic path, but it can be incorporated into a future career. 

Pierce College held its fifth celebration for Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Day  Wednesday in the Great Hall. The event hosted five guest speakers who displayed the variety of ways GIS can be applied in everyday life. 

State Government employee and student Steve Brand gave a presentation on his analysis of the Los Angeles County climate. He said GIS is too broad to describe in a singular way.  

“There is a lot to GIS. It’s just one word that encompasses a lot, but if I could simplify it, it’s like storytelling using maps or geography,” Brand said. 

GIS Day is celebrated at a national level and is used to recognize the Geographic Information System technology. 

Geographical Sciences Instructor Adrian Youhanna said Pierce’s relationship with GIS is unique and a rare one to come by.

“This is an extremely unique program that we have because nobody else within our district, at the other eight colleges, have a GIS certificate program. The closest one is about 50 or so miles away at Rio Hondo College and Cyprus College. We are also the only community college in California that has an AA degree for GIS,” Youhanna said. 

Three high schools, Northridge Academy, Birmingham Community Charter and Cleveland, also attended the events. 

GIS major Tanzi Jackson gave a presentation on Farmers Markets and Food Insecurity. She said she wants to let know students know GIS exists and can be applied to a majority of fields.

“If you’re into computers or into maps, but you’re also into environmentalism, tracking fires, water or traffic, there’s a career there for you,” Jackson said. “I once saw Petco was hiring a GIS analyst probably to find where to put new stores.” 

Brand has already graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree but wanted to gain more technological experience. He is an internship away from getting his certification.  

He said his love for the environment and his background as a Latino drove him to make the presentation and analysis he gave. 

“That was a big inspiration for me and I hope that today I can pass that inspiration on to other high school students to become future leaders in environmental science as well,” Brand said.

Youhanna said the GIS Day also helps promote the GIS program Pierce has to offer. She said they school tries to make a clear pathway for students taking the program. She said it is designed in hopes of having the students finish within three semesters.

“We’ve been intentionally creating these very clear pathways for our students because they want to get the education they want to gain those skills, and then get out there and start working on applying those skills,” Youhanna said.

Youhanna encourages students to take the 18 units and get certified. She said GIS is a skillset and isn’t only for meant for geographers.

“Whatever your major or area of interest may be, if it has anything to do with space, place, location, you should be using GIS,” Youhanna said.