With the help of faculty and staff, one Brookhaven College student turned a bad situation into a golden opportunity.
James Walker, geographic information systems student, has a 4.0 grade point average and is a recent scholarship winner.
His internship employer, Garland Independent School District, is known for its utilization of GIS in current building projects and relies on Walker's expertise, he said. Through this internship, Walker has created floor plans for the district, providing interior information such as equipment and air conditioning usage. The maps he creates allows the architects to make intelligent decisions when designing the additions to current facilities (Wow!).
Needless to say, he's doing what he was made to do. But, not long ago, he didn't even know what GIS was.
In 2008, Walker was in a position where he had to make a choice. He'd lost his position in warehouse distribution and had little success finding work. Left with a choice between collecting unemployment or learning to do something new, he decided to go to school. He also had an idea of what he wanted to pursue.
For as long as he could remember, he'd had an interest in science. However, after high school, his family's limited resources had stopped him from pursing the field, he said. For ten years he worked "a number of jobs" before the economy bottomed out.
When his lay-off provided the need to pursue an education, Brookhaven College provided the resources.
"I've been very glad for the opportunity to go to college and get an affordable education, especially at the caliber that Brookhaven College has" said Walker. "I couldn't do it out of high school due to cost so having the opportunity 10 years later is something I'm glad to have."
Thinking he wanted to do something related to science but unaware of what was available to him, he stopped by the Majors Fair offered by the Advising Center during his first semester. It was there that he was drawn to the GIS booth.
The science aspect of the field, along with the attention to graphics, is what interested him. As a freelance photographer, he also has an eye for visuals and chose to incorporate Adobe software classes from the Visual Communications Department with his GIS classes. His background in both aesthetics and science has been beneficial in this work, he said, as the two work well together.
Though his success is his own, he's had some help along the way from Brookhaven College faculty: Scott Sires, professor and coordinator of the Geospatial Technology Program; Gerald Bartz, science learning lab coordinator; and many others in both the GIS and Visual Communications departments.
Walker plans to graduate in Spring 2012 with an Associate in Applied Science as a GIS technology systems specialist, then transfer to the University of North Texas to pursue his bachelor's.