I’ve worked for the Center for GIS for a LONG time. But, I’m happy to say there are a few other folks who have been here pretty long, too, but more interestingly, they started their careers at CGIS as student employees. I thought it would be interesting to look back and find out more about their days as undergrads (or grad students in some cases).

Ardys Russakis

Ardys Russakis (pronounced R-DIS) started working at CGIS in 1995 and is now the Operations Officer. Her mentor was Dr. Kent Barnes, a professor in the Towson University Department of Geography & Environmental Planning. Ardys believes that his insistence on hard work really paid off. She commented that there were a “number of times I had to redo GIS projects in the lab….by the time I finished my BA I realized how important it was to review, review,  and review your work along the way. If something seems too easy you have probably missed a step, and if something seems impossible you are probably over thinking it.”

Ashley Lesh Buzzeo

Ashley Buzzeo is a rising star around here. She told me that Dr. Jay Morgan, Director Emeritus of CGIS, took the time to mentor her and didn’t just teach her about professional skills, but also life skills that focus on being passionate about work while putting family first. She was recently promoted to project manager and when she shared with me the most valuable skill she gained as a student employee, I can see why these early skills she learned in the workforce have made it easy for her to emerge as a leader. “I learned from day one that at CGIS, our work requires multiple skills, collaboration, and good communication from many coworkers to accomplish specific tasks.” Besides being a leader here, she is one of the most active CGIS staff members in the Maryland State Geographic Information Committee (MSGIC).

Jeremy Monn

Back in 2003 when Jeremy Monn started out as a Graduate Assistant, we sat next to one another in our old offices that use to be located in the basement of Linthicum Hall. Recently, he told me that the most valuable skill he gained while working as a student was preparing and delivering conference presentations.  With encouragement from faculty members in Towson University’s Geography Department and from CGIS supervisors, he prepared and delivered several conference presentations as a graduate assistant. I’m sure that is part of the reason he enjoys teaching as an adjunct in the Geography Department so much. Jeremy also considered Jaime Alvarez, a former CGIS co-worker, to be a good mentor. On Friday afternoons, they’d share a Dr. Pepper and discuss projects. Jaime “was always very approachable and always stressed that I not hesitate to ask him questions.  That’s something I have tried to stress as a CGIS employee and an adjunct instructor.”

Susan Wooden

Just a few months after I started working for CGIS, Susan Wooden was hired as a part time student employee while working on her Master’s degree in Professional Writing. As we discussed our time here, Susan said that not only the coursework sharpened her skills, but also the work she was charged with such as managing proposals and project documents for CGIS made her put everything she was learning about grammar, rhetoric, and style to work right away, under the pressure of deadlines and administrative scrutiny. Besides professors from the Professional Writing program mentoring her, she said that “Dr. Jay Morgan’s encouragement and advice, and his telling me often “Your work is important to CGIS” was key to my longevity and success at CGIS.”