GIST Alumni Spotlight: Cherie Southwick

Cherie Southwick

A recent graduate from the The Master of Geospatial Information Science and Technology (MGIST) program at NC State, Cherie Southwick has put her education to good use. She’s a current GIS Analyst at Chevron (through a contract with Wipro Technologies). We caught up with Cherie to ask her about her experience in the GIST program and how’s she’s applying her education in her current role.

A Thorough Background in GIS

While Cherie now works as a professional GIS analyst, it’s not her first role within the field. She worked previously as a GIS intern at Wild South (an environmental nonprofit in Asheville), as the GIS Crew Leader at Warren Wilson College, and as the Dangermond Fellow at National Audubon Society—a role she started during her last semester with NC State.

Although she had previous experience, here’s how Cherie responded when asked about the NC State program’s impact: “It helped give me a leg up in my job search compared to undergraduate GIS majors, exposed me to the relational database and web-based components of GIS (I call it the “behind-the-scenes” side of GIS), and firmed up my existing foundation of the fundamentals of GIS.”

Cherie appreciated the MGIST program’s course schedule flexibility: “I was not only able to work two part-time jobs while in school, but also gain real-world experience using new skills I learned each semester—all while working on my degree.” She said, “I also enjoyed the fact that each course had assignment due dates, final projects and other standard course events because I am the type of person that needs some structure in order to thrive. Some of my courses even had proctored exams, adding to the program’s accreditation.”

Cherie’s Impact In Her Current GIS Role

In her current role as a GIS Analyst, Cherie sees an impact in her community: “I’ve been able to do a lot of environmental work, represent Audubon at the Esri User Conference in 2016, and even raise money for charitable causes via my employer’s cycling team (I am currently training for the MS150). I’ve also been able to answer many questions people have about whether or not they should pursue, or continue to pursue, a career in GIS.”

And for anyone interested in becoming a GIS professional or studying in the NC State program, Cherie has a message for you: “I think that anyone who has attention to detail, any level of inclination towards IT or spatial science, and a constant hunger to continue learning would do very well in NCSU’s MGIST program. The program continues to grow and evolve as the technology changes, and I foresee it soon being recognized as one of the best programs of its kind.”

Check back each month as we cover interesting and exciting topics in Geospatial Information Science and Technology at NC State.