Geography & Environmental Studies at Aquinas College

Alumni Profiles

Geographers have proven that their unparalleled combination of natural and social science knowledge and research capabilities can contribute to solving many problems facing society. Many government agencies and industries employing geographers have found them to be flexible and resourceful problem solvers who can, with confidence, be given a wide variety of assignments.

Alumna Profile: Emily Macqueen

Emily followed a career path straight from Aquinas College graduation in 2016 to California, where she worked on a contract for Apple, Inc. (via Apex Systems) as a GIS Technician/Data Analyst. When the contract ended, Emily took another position in California, this time as a Permit Technician with Wave Broadband. At Wave Broadband, Emily was able to bring her GIS knowledge to the company, as they were just beginning to use mapping to track all stages of their work.

In 2019, Emily returned to Michigan for employment as an Environmental Analyst at Consumers Energy in Jackson. Her position at Consumers Energy allows her combine her knowledge of geography and the environment to study issues and solve problems. Emily evaluates projects to identify, and when possible, minimize potential impacts.

The critical thinking, presentation skills, and technical geospatial knowledge gained at Aquinas College have proven vital on a daily basis for Emily’s career in each job she has had, including her current job at Consumers Energy. And, although as she says “public speaking wasn’t my favorite thing in college,” the skills gained by giving frequent presentations in classes easily transferred to her career, where she presents in front of department heads and peers with confidence.

Emily’s favorite classes at Aquinas College were in the subfields of geospatial technologies, physical geography, and environmental studies. She loved the creative problem solving found in cartography and GIS. In addition, hands-on field-oriented courses, such as geomorphology, made it easy to see how the outdoor environment fit with classroom learning. Emily is confident that her involvement in the Mohler-Thompson Summer Research Program factored in landing the jobs that she has had since graduating. The research program gave her an opportunity to work closely with faculty for an entire summer, and to present her research at multiple professional conferences.

As a group, the Geography and Environmental Studies faculty strongly impacted Emily’s career goals. Drs. Clinthorne, McCluskey and Rasmussen were, according to Emily, “the three most influential teachers I had in my entire college career. They brought their life experiences into the classroom and were always willing to help. They made it interesting and fun to learn.” For students pursuing an undergraduate degree in geography or environment studies, Emily has this piece of advice: “Do not be afraid of new experiences, because every experience will help you succeed in the future, even if it isn’t immediately clear how.”

Alumnus headshotAlumnus Profile: Adam Burnett

Aquinas encourages students to delve deeply into what they are passionate about, creating an environment that allows students to grow and find the area in which they can excel. What often goes unnoticed, though, is the potential that one interesting class or one enthusiastic professor can have in changing a student's focus, perhaps pulling him or her away from the previously planned track and into a whole new passion. Such was the case for Adam Burnett, AQ alumnus, climatologist, and dean at Colgate University in New York. >Read More