Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Alumni Spotlight: Samantha Bulkilvish '09

     Sometimes it isn’t so bad to follow the crowd. Many GIS lab interns apply for a position by word of mouth and encouragement of friends. Samantha Bulkilvish ’09 followed her friends right into the lab with an internship that led to her post-graduation employment.

     “A lot of my friends in college were upperclassmen and they had all taken GIS classes and were interning with the GIS lab. I got to see all the cool projects they were working on and they encouraged me to sign up for GIS in the fall semester of my junior year. I continued as an intern throughout junior year, that summer, and my senior year.” said Bulkilvish.
    Like most interns, Samantha was able to work on projects that pertained to her major in Environmental Studies to give her real hands-on experience in the GIS field.

      “I worked on calculating the tree canopy within the town of Chestertown so that we could determine how much carbon sequestration there was and to determine the best places to plant more trees. I also worked with the Sassafras River Association collecting data from many different sources and creating a uniformed map template to display for a Watershed Implementation Plan.”

      A position with the GIS lab has opened up doors for Samantha that have extended beyond the borders of Chestertown. In the summer of 2009 she traveled to Idaho to collect data for Daryl Swanstrom ’69, a member of the Board of Visitors and Governors. “I was able to visit her ranch in Idaho to collect GPS data and video. Once we returned to the office, I processed all the data and started trying it back to the map of her property.”

     After graduation Samantha hunted for jobs and interviewed with several organizations in the area, and once again her GIS skills brought forth opportunity. By the end of the summer a position in the GIS Program became available. After an interview process with internal and external candidates, Samantha was chosen to teach a few Intro. to GIS courses, create a Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) course for local 9th grade classrooms, and to teach Google Earth and Google SketchUP at the local middle school.

     “I was glad I was persuaded to take GIS because after I graduated I felt like I had a skill that not a lot of other people had which set me apart from the crowd. When I went on job interviews, everyone I spoke with was very impressed with my GIS skills.”  

      Samantha continues to travel and has presented GIS Technology in K-12 education at the ESRI Mid Atlantic User Group Conference in Philadelphia, attended the USGIF Symposium in New Orleans, and spoken with groups in Harrisburg, Pa. and Dover, Del. about her work with GIS in K-12 education.
     “Three years later I am still working in the lab and I no longer teach K-12 GIS, but I am teaching a whole different group - law enforcement. I am now tasked with providing online training to all law enforcement in Maryland on the use of GIS for Crime Analysis. I also provide mapping assistance to the law enforcement on special cases or with more routine map products that they use on a monthly basis.”

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