A senior natural resource and history dual degree student at the University of Connecticut Storrs campus, Luke Gersz has worked as an intern with the UConn Libraries’ Map and Geographic Information Center (MAGIC) during the spring 2016 semester. A Killingworth resident, Gersz enjoys hiking and the outdoors and hopes to work as a surveyor one day. Here is what he said about his experiences as a CAHNR student.
What attracted you to UConn? UConn had a large amount of majors to offer. I came in as an undecided student, and they had a lot of choices for me. The in-state tuition made it affordable, as well.
What is your major, and why did you choose it? I’m a history and natural resources major, with a concentration in geomatics.
In my sophomore year, I went through the list of majors and I realized that I wanted a career that involved the environment and would let me be in the outdoors. It felt practical and applicable to go into natural resources, and I’ve narrowed it down to the geomatics concentration. I chose history because I’ve always enjoyed the subject, with the idea that I might teach one day. If I do go into it, I’d like to teach American history at the high school level.
Which one of your UConn activities, internships or jobs was the most memorable? Why? I applied for the MAGIC internship after my history advisor told me about the program. It was my first Geographic Information Systems (GIS) job, and it was my first time getting into the meat of my major. I worked with several GIS professionals, and I learned a lot about the track that I’d chosen. Data management is really important, and it helped me learn computer skills, as well.
We digitized paper maps across Connecticut, specifically voting districts for towns, and we joined them all in one big database. I now understand the application and data management of geographical information, which will help me do outdoor land surveying.
Name two other experiences that have enriched your studies. I worked as a survey technician for Facilities Operations & Building Services at UConn over the summer. I surveyed the location of and information on all the signs across UConn, which really got me into the applications of my major and gave me an idea of what I’ll be doing in the future.
I tutored at the Mansfield Middle School for a year. I work with a community outreach program at elementary schools, as well. I’m paired with a couple of elementary school kids that are going through difficult situations in their life. I act as an advisor and a ‘big brother’ to them. I like working with younger kids, since they are so positive and outgoing. It solidifies my interest in working with students and possibly going down the teaching path.
What was the biggest challenge in your UConn career? Working on a dual degree, especially since my majors are in two different colleges, keeps me active. Within the same week, I go to my science labs and read over 200 pages for my history classes. I have friends in both majors who help me stay on top of all my projects and homework. I always talk to my professors and get help from them, too. You can’t just sit back and let it happen.
When do you expect to graduate? What then? I’ll graduate in May 2017. I’d like to take a job working as a survey technician, hopefully out West. I’ve never been to the west coast, and I would like to explore that area. The prospects seem pretty good so far, since I can work as a surveyor for the government or the private sector.
Is there anything else you would like us to know about you? The longest hike I’ve ever done in one go was from Massachusetts to Canada, which was a couple of summers ago. I camped in lean-tos, and it took me 20 days to hike the entire 272-mile trail.