MS-GIST Alumni

The following is a sample of alumni who have completed a Master of Science in Geographic Information Systems Technology (MS-GIST) in the School of Geography and Development.

Jennifer Dvorsky (MS-GIST 2012), GIS Specialist, City of Prescott, AZ

Graduating with my BS in Wood Science and Forest Products from Virginia Tech led me to working as Forest Ranger for two years. After realizing my dream job wasn’t my dream job anymore I decided to consider higher education for a career change. I’ve always been interested in geography and maps, whether planning out a backpacking trip, cross county bicycle tour or finding the fastest way from point A to point B. I am a hands on visual learner so maps have always been second nature to me.

The MS-GIST program at The University of Arizona was a perfect pathway to learn GIS and take my love of maps into a new and exciting career. I was lucky to gain real world experience as a GIS intern with both the Sky Island Alliance and the National Park Service Sonoran Desert Network in Tucson. Volunteering with them allowed me to learn about environmental and habitat analysis, data management as well as the art of cartography.

I am currently working as the GIS Specialist for the City of Prescott where all the various aspects of my education are being put to use. My work is involved in nearly every city department from the waterlines at public works to, my favorite, the dozens of trails for Parks and Recreation. I particularly enjoy collaborating with the different departments and knowing each has their own unique challenges where I’m constantly learning and problem solving in GIS.

Sara Guerra Sillars (MS-GIST 2012), GIS Analyst, Pacific Gas and Electric, CA

Before coming to the MS-GIST program, I had obtained a BS in Wildlife Ecology & Conservation from the University of Florida, after which I became a wildlife biologist for Florida Fish & Wildlife. Although from the outside this seemed like my dream job and my grand final destination, on the inside it felt more like a dead-end. After much thought I decided to join the Air Force to become an Airborne Korean linguist. Seems random, I know, but ultimately I would have the chance to serve my country and while doing so I could figure out my next career goals.

This is how I came to the MS-GIST program. I was in Tucson, preparing to separate from the Air Force, and was ready to get my master’s. GIS had been a common thread through all of my work. I loved using maps and was always impressed with the analyses that could be done with GIS. During the MS-GIST course, I interned with Sky Island Alliance and was given the opportunity to model wildlife corridors in Cochise County, which became my final master’s project. This project took on a life of its own and has been utilized by ADOT and Cochise County planners. It is now within their scope to construct a wildlife overpass across Interstate 10 as part of a previously planned reconstruction project. They used my recommendations based on the results of my project to select the most prime location for this overpass. My experience in the MS-GIST program proved to be very rewarding and I was able to make a very big difference!

Upon graduating, I accepted a job in California with Pacific Gas and Electric as a GIS analyst. Since then I have worked on multi-million dollar projects helping the company to update its records and organize all of its pipeline data using GIS databases and software. The number one goal of all our projects is to ensure the safety of those working or living near PG&E’s pipeline assets. It is very important work that I am proud to be a part of!