As the daughter of educators, I have always had and taken opportunities to mentor and teach. When I entered my undergraduate years, several key opportunities emerged for me to channel those skills directly:
- Undergraduate Peer Mentor as the Co-Coordinator of the Geography Society
- One-on-one teaching students at the Down Syndrome Association of Brazos Valley
As a Co-Coordinator of the Texas A&M Geography Society, I spent two years organizing up to 20 undergraduate students into identifying, managing, and completing multiple independent research projects. One of the most successful of these projects originally came from a publication I and several other students made in our school’s student journal, Explorations (“A Crumbling Campus”, page 28). This research, which identified a multitude of areas on the Texas A&M campus that were in disrepair, caught the attention of a number of administrators, including the head of the grounds company that managed Texas A&M’s groundskeeping. After meeting with them, I negotiated that they donate $3000 to the Texas A&M Geography Society in exchange for the student group of 20 to complete the enormous task of locating and collecting the physical location of every outdoor waste receptacle on campus. The ultimate goal of this was to then have a student intern map the most efficient routes for janitorial staff to empty these receptacles. The project was enormously successful, as students gained hands-on experience with GPS units, mapping, and project management, and the grounds company continues to hire students as interns to this day.
Since leaving Texas A&M, I have continued to pursue opportunities to mentor and share knowledge with others outside the university classroom. These include:
- Geomentoring at Franklin STEAM Academy
- Mentoring one-on-one through the C-U One-to-One Program
- Participating in workshops with various departmental units on campus, such as the Latina/Latino Studies Department
Through the AAG Geomentor Program, I have worked with Instructional Education Specialists at Franklin STEAM Academy to introduce GIS into the classroom. I draw on a variety of materials to make this happen, which include:
- ESRI GeoInquiries – short lessons created by ESRI to introduce students to Geography concepts through ArcGIS Online
- GIS Activities at the Franklin STEAM Academy Art + Science Cafe
- After school events with clubs like Franklin STEAM Academy’s Sisterhood group
- ESRI’s Free ArcGIS Online Licenses for Schools Program – setting up Franklin STEAM Academy with the license
- The UIUC SESE Geosciences Camp for Middle School Girls – a two-day camp dedicated to introducing middle school girls to the Geosciences, created and organized by myself and Julia Cisneros, a fellow graduate student in the Geology Department at UIUC. Details coming soon, after the inaugural session in August 2019!
I have also spoken to a number of schools about GIS and Geography through the AAG Geomentor Program, and received certificates in recognition of these presentations, introducing students to Geography and GIS.