What are our WSC Geography graduates doing?

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Ron Westlake graduated in December 2013, honorable mention with Scholar in the Major of Geography.  He was initiated into Gamma Theta Upsilon and  Pi Gamma Mu.  In 2014 after a rigorous screening process, Ron started work as a Criminal Intelligence Analyst at the South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI).  The DCI operates a Criminal Intelligence Unit that assists local, state and federal governments by collecting, analyzing, and disseminating criminal intelligence information to support criminal investigations.


Austin Mohr graduated in December 2013, cum laude Scholar in the Major of Geography.  He was initiated into Gamma Theta Upsilon and also served as Vice-President of Pi Gamma Mu.  Austin was awarded a John David Robinson Scholarship in geography while at WSC and later received the 2013 Robert G. Foote Award as outstanding student in geography.  In 2014, Austin accepted a position working in Kansas City at Garmin International as a Cartography Technician within the Automotive Cartography Department.  His job requires him to perform quarterly updates for Garmin GPS units marketed in North America, Europe, Australia/New Zealand, and Russia.


Chelsea Schrage graduated in May 2012 with a major in Geography.  She participated in several internships while at WSC, most notably a summer spent at the Bighorn National Forest Visitor Center in Wyoming.  At WSC she was initiated into Gamma Theta Upsilon and also served as Vice-President of the Explorers Club.  Starting in the summer of 2012, Chelsea accepted a position at Mahoney State Park near Ashland, Nebraska.  Her goal is to work at other state parks in Nebraska as well.


Tom Warzywak graduated in December 2011 with a Field Endorsement in Social Sciences Education.  He was recognized at graduation as Summa cum Laude with Scholar in the Major.  At WSC, Tom was initiated into the honor societies of Gamma Theta Upsilon, Pi Gamma Mu, Phi Alpha Theta, and Phi Kappa Phi.  In the fall of 2011, he presented his Honors paper at the Pi Gamma Mu national convention held in the Kennedy Caucus Room of the Russell Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill.  During his final semester, he received the Excellence in Scholarship Award from the National Council for Geographic Education.  After graduating, he accepted a position teaching at a middle school in northern Virginia where Mr. Warzywak now advises the Geography Club and coordinates the local Geography School Bee.

Corey Uldrich graduated in May 2009 with a Field Endorsement in Social Sciences Education.  He was recognized at graduation as Summa cum Laude with Scholar in the Major.  At WSC he was initiated into Pi Gamma Mu, Gamma Theta Upsilon,  Phi Alpha Theta, and Phi Kappa Phi His honors project was entitled, "Parking for All?  The Geography of Parking at Wayne State College."  Starting in the fall of 2009, Corey accepted a position teaching social studies and coaching at Hartington Cedar Catholic High School in northeast Nebraska.

Heather Hegi graduated in May 2009 as a Geography major with minors in Earth Science and Environmental Studies.  She graduated Honorable Mention Honors with Scholar in the Major.  Heather served as President of Pi Gamma Mu and as Vice-President of Gamma Theta Upsilon She attended the Fall 2008 Pi Gamma Mu Convention in Atlanta and presented a paper at the Spring 2009 South Dakota State Geography Convention.  Her honors project was entitled, "Newly Independent Countries: An Examination of the Viability of Selected States from 1992-Present."  During the summers of 2008-09, Heather interned for the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish, and Parks.  Following graduation, Heather earned a Masters in GIS at the University of Minnesota and subsequently went to work as GIS Specialist for the city of Golden Valley, MN.

Cara Watchorn graduated in May 2007 with degrees in Geography and Speech Communication.  She was recognized at graduation as Honorable Mention Honors.  At WSC Cara served as President of Pi Gamma Mu and the Explorers Club, and as Vice-President of Gamma Theta Upsilon She presented papers during Fall 2005 at the triennial Pi Gamma Mu Convention in Nashville and during spring 2006 at the South Dakota State Geography Convention.  Her honors project was entitled, "Subterranean Beauties: Jewel Cave and Wind Cave."   During the summer of 2006, Cara worked at Wind Cave National Park in the Black Hills of South Dakota.  Following graduation, Cara accepted a position at Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming.  She is currently pursuing a Masters in Environmental Education at Hamline University in St. Paul, MN

Seth Poldberg graduated in December 2006 with a Field Endorsement in Social Sciences Education.  He was recognized at graduation as Honorable Mention Honors and Scholar in the Major.  At WSC he was initiated into Pi Gamma Mu, Gamma Theta Upsilon, and Phi Alpha Theta His honors project was entitled, "From Copenhagen to Elk Horn, Iowa: How Tourism Funds a Small Community."  In the spring of 2007, he accepted an internship with U.S. Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA) and worked at the Hart Senate Building in Washington, D.C.  Starting in the fall of 2007, Seth accepted a social studies/coaching position at Prairie City-Monroe school district in Monroe, Iowa about 25 miles southeast of Des Moines.

Brian Bruckner graduated in December 2006 with a degree in Geography and minors in Earth Science and Public Administration.  He was recognized at graduation as Honorable Mention Scholarship Honors.  While at WSC, he was initiated into Pi Gamma Mu and Gamma Theta Upsilon.  Brian spent the summer of 2006 doing an internship with the Assistant to the Director of the Woodbury County Rural Economic Development Office.  His honors project was entitled, "The Ogallala Aquifer: Critical Resource for Nebraska."  After graduation, Brian was hired as a Groundwater Management Area Specialist with the Lower Elkhorn NRD based in Norfolk, NE.  He works with farmers to mitigate groundwater pollution by coordinating soil sampling, nutrient management plans, and fertilizer application certification.

Phil Heimann graduated in December 2006 with a degree in Geography and minors in Earth Science and Biology.  He was initiated into Gamma Theta Upsilon.  While at WSC, Phil interned at the Wayne Municipal Building under the supervision of the City Inspector.  After graduation, he was hired as a temporary GIS Technician with the Twin Platte NRD based in North Platte, NE and was later hired on permanently as a Conservation Technician.  His work involves helping to create and maintain maps of the irrigated crop acreage in the area.  He credits his internship experience with helping him land a job that he loves.

Chris Lord graduated in December 2006 with teaching endorsements in both Geography Education and History Education.  His academic work was recognized at graduation as Honorable Mention Honors with Scholar in the Major.  While at WSC, he was inducted into the honor societies of Gamma Theta Upsilon, Phi Alpha Theta, and Pi Gamma Mu.  His honors project was entitled, "Glacier National Park: What if There Were No More Glaciers?" and the full text was published in WSC's Hot Papers 2007, recognizing the best academic writing on campus.  After graduation, Chris took a position teaching 7th and 8th grade social studies at Winnebago Public High School.  He can be reached at lord31@hotmail.com 
Steve Walsh graduated in May 2006 with a degree in Geography and a minor in History.  He was recognized at graduation as Honorable Mention Scholarship Honors.  While at WSC, he became a member of Gamma Theta Upsilon and was also a member of the WSC baseball squad that won four consecutive NSIC conference championships.  His honors project was entitled, "The Whitetail Deer Impact on North Dakota's Economy."  In December 2006, Steve was accepted by Homeland Security for training as a Border Patrol Agent and will be stationed in Willcox, Arizona.  Contact him at nonofit@hotmail.com.

Jill Houghtelling (nee Zimmerman) graduated in May 2005 with a Field Endorsement in Social Sciences Education and a certificate in Coaching.  She was recognized at graduation as Summa Cum Laude with Scholar in the Major.  At WSC she was initiated into Pi Gamma Mu, Gamma Theta Upsilon, and Phi Alpha Theta Her honors project was entitled, "Historical Geography of the Sandhills."  In 2005, Jill accepted a position as social studies teacher and volleyball coach at Winside Middle School in northeast Nebraska.  She participated in the June 2007 summer institute "Modern Mapmaking" sponsored by the Geographic Educators of Nebraska.

Kyle Sukup graduated in December 2005 with a degree in Geography and a minor in Public Administration.  While at WSC, he was inducted into Gamma Theta Upsilon.  After graduation, Kyle took a position with Union Pacific as a Precision Measurement Vehicle Operator.  Part of his work involves mapping the entire 33,000 miles of the UP system west of the Mississippi River along with segments of CSX track in the east.  The data and digital maps are used by train dispatchers, engineering companies, and real estate firms.  In addition, these maps are currently being used to help create simulators for training locomotive engineers.  Kyle reports that one of the best perks of his job is having the opportunity to travel nearly the entire country.  Contact him at kassukup@yahoo.com

Josie Wolff graduated in December 2005 with degrees in Geography and Business Administration (concentration in International Business).  While at WSC, she was a member of the geography honor society Gamma Theta Upsilonthe social sciences honor society Pi Gamma Muand the business honor society Sigma Beta Delta.  Her honors project was entitled, "Harmful Effects of Food Aid From the West: A Case Study of Somalia."  Josie is currently employed as an insurance account specialist at Farm Credit Services of America in Norfolk, NE.  Since she handles crop insurance, Josie  says that some of what she learned at WSC (e.g., plat maps and weather) is coming in handy!

Troy Gilmore graduated in August of 2005 with a double major in Geography and Human Services Counseling.  Soon after, Troy got hired at what he considers his "dream job" opportunity--training to be an elk hunting guide at the Flying B Ranch in the Nez Perce and Clearwater National Forests in North Central Idaho.


Norman B. Small II graduated in May 2005 with degrees in Geography and Psychology.  While at WSC, he was a member of the geography honor society Gamma Theta Upsilon, the history honor society Phi Alpha Theta, and the psychology honor society Psi Chi.  Norm also served as president of the social sciences honor society Pi Gamma Mu, and he traveled with the Explorers Club.  His honors project was entitled, "200 Years of Map Making in the United States: From Lewis and Clark to Present Day."  Norm also gave a presentation at the 2005 South Dakota State Undergraduate Geography Conference in Brookings, SD.  He recently accepted a position as the Geographic Information Systems Specialist for Madison County in Nebraska.  He is also working on a certificate in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) through the University of Denver's online graduate program for Organizational Leadership.  Contact Norm at nbsmall2@msn.com.


Camy Havlicek graduated in May 2005 with subject teaching endorsements in both Geography Education and History Education.  While at WSC, she was inducted into the honor societies of Gamma Theta Upsilon, Phi Alpha Theta, and Pi Gamma Mu, and she also traveled on Explorers Club trips.  She also served as President of PAT (the history honor society) and Vice-president of GTU (the geography honor society).  Her honors project dealt with the history of female pirates.  After graduation, Camy accepted a position teaching junior high students at the Boys and Girls home in Marshalltown, Iowa.  Currently, she teaches in the Des Moines, Iowa area.


Jamie Petersen graduated in May 2005 with a degree in Geography and minors in Earth Science and Environmental Science.  He was initiated at WSC into Gamma Theta Upsilon (geography).  During his time in school, Jamie worked at two different internships--one in Florida and one in Omaha--that utilized his GIS skills.  Shortly after graduation, he accepted a position at the Omaha branch of ATC Associates Inc., an environmental/health/safety consulting firm where his official title was Industrial Hygienest/Environmental Specialist.  Recently, Jamie was contacted by the Omaha firm where he did his internship while enrolled at WSC --Applied Data Consultants--and they offered him a full-time position as a GIS Analyst.  Way to go, Jamie!  Today, he is a GIS Analyst for Pottawattamie County in Iowa.


Jeff Konkoleski graduated in May 2005 with subject teaching endorsements in both Geography Education and History Education.  He was initiated at WSC into the honor societies of Gamma Theta Upsilon (geography) and Phi Alpha Theta (history).  In the fall of 2005, Jeff accepted a position at Ainsworth Community School in north central Nebraska where he teaches middle school social studies and also some high school courses.  Jeff was an assistant coach on the 2007 Bulldogs boys basketball team that won the state class C-1 championship.


Gary Hansen graduated in May 2005 with a major in Geography.  He was initiated into the Lambda Zeta chapter of Gamma Theta Upsilon while attending Wayne State College.  He was also formally commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the U.S. Army through the Army Reserve Officer Training Corp, Prairie Fire Battalion.  2LT Hansen attended the Infantry Officer Basic Course at Fort Benning, GA and then rejoined the Nebraska National Guard.  He served nearly two years in Iraq (left, WSC Prof. Paul Campbell administers the National Guard oath to Gary).

Jarrod Knudsen graduated in May 2005 with a major in Geography and minors in Earth Science and History.  He was initiated into the Lambda Zeta chapter of Gamma Theta Upsilon.  He recently took a position with Hertz Rental Cars at Omaha's Eppley Airport and manages the inboard GPS systems for the rental fleet.


Troxl Miner graduated in May 2005 with a major in Geography and a minor in Social Sciences.  His honors project was entitled, "Fighting Back: An Analysis of Environmental Organization in Rural Nebraska."  Troxl also presented at the 2005 South Dakota State Undergraduate Geography Conference in Brookings, SD.  While at WSC, he was initiated into three honor societies: Gamma Theta Upsilon (geography), Phi Alpha Theta (history), and Pi Gamma Mu (social sciences).  In the fall of 2005, Troxl will enter the Masters program in Geography at the University of Nebraska-Omaha and will be fully funded through a graduate assistantship.  Good luck, Troxl!


Roy Zach graduated in May 2004 with a major in Geography.  Roy was a two-time winner of the Outstanding Student in Geography Award in 2003 and 2004, served as President of Gamma Theta Upsilon, won a John David Robinson geography scholarship, did an honors project, and was presented with GTU's Excellence in Geography award in 2004.  In the fall of 2005, Roy will enter the Masters program in Geography at the University of Nebraska-Omaha and will be fully funded through a graduate assistantship.  Well done, Roy!


Ted Gibson graduated in December of 2003 with a major in Geography.  Ted was inducted into Gamma Theta Upsilon while at WSC and also did an internship at Applied Data Consultants in Eau Claire, WI.  In January 2005, Ted enrolled in the Masters program in Geography at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks and will be funded through a teaching assistantship.  Way to go, Ted!


Matt Tobias graduated in December of 2003 with a major in Geography.  Matt was inducted into Gamma Theta Upsilon while at WSC and also did an internship with the city utility department in South Sioux City, NE.  Matt later took a job as a Development Planner with SIMPCO in Sioux City where he made maps of development areas in the Sioux City area.  Later, Matt moved to Omaha and took a position with Terracon as an Environmental Scientist where he collected and analyzed soil samples as well as indoor air quality surveys.  In 2006, Matt accepted a position as Environmental Analyst with the City of Sioux Falls, SD where he spends most of his time working with the city’s storm water management program.  Matt invites anyone wanting to talk about WSC Geography to contact him at MTobias@siouxfalls.org.


Stacy Johnson graduated in December of 2003 with teaching endorsements in Geography and History.  A charter member of the Lambda Zeta chapter of Gamma Theta Upsilon founded at WSC in April of 2002, Stacy also served for two years as President of Pi Gamma Mu, the social sciences honorary.  She earned a ton of awards while at WSC, including a John David Robinson geography scholarship and the Gamma Theta Upsilon Excellence in Geography award.  Her honors project was entitled, "The Invisible Empire Unveiled: A Geography of the Ku Klux Klan."  Stacy is currently teaching geography, government, and history at Rock County HS in Bassett, NE and coaches girls basketball as well.  To ask her questions about teaching as a career path, just contact Stacy at n2johnson@huntel.net.


Beau Denker graduated summa cum laude in 2003 with a double major in Chemistry and Geography.  While at WSC, he was inducted into both Gamma Theta Upsilon and Pi Gamma Mu, and also earned a John David Robinson scholarship.  Beau also won the 2002 Outstanding Student in Geography Award.  After graduation, Beau immediately found work with North American Sweeteners through Cargill, Inc.  He is a quality assurance chemist in charge of the corn milling process at a plant in Blair, NE.  Since Cargill is based around the world in almost 100 cities, Beau plans to use his geography background to travel extensively and help set up new plants in foreign countries.


Mike Stone graduated in 2003 with a major in Geography and a minor in Earth Sciences.  He served as President of the Gamma Theta Upsilon charter class of inductees in 2002, won two John David Robinson scholarships, and earned the GTU Excellence in Geography award in 2003.  Today, Mike is doing what he knows and loves best--tending the family farm north of Laurel, NE.


Ashley Twedt graduated in December of 2002 with a degree in Geography and was the winner of the WSC Outstanding Student in Geography Award in 2001.  She was the first Geography major at WSC to receive a John David Robinson scholarship and she was also a charter member of the Lambda Zeta chapter of Gamma Theta Upsilon founded at WSC in April of 2002.  Ashley lives in Fremont, NE with her daughters Bridget and Serena and works as a transcriber for the Midlands Regional Cancer Center.  She reports that she is very happy and doing well.


Curt Becker graduated in August of 2002 with a major in Geography and a minor in Biology.  Curt received a John David Robinson scholarship at WSC and was also a charter member of the Lambda Zeta chapter of Gamma Theta Upsilon founded at WSC in April of 2002.  While studying at WSC, he did an internship for the Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District.  He turned his internship into a job in 2003 and went to work for the NRD full-time as a water resources technician.  In 2005, he took a position with the Natural Resources Conservation Service in Wahoo, NE as a soil conservation technician assisting in the layout and installation of soil and water conservation practices, and working with landowners on tree planting and grass seeding projects.

Nate Dougherty graduated in 2002 with a major in Geography.  He was a charter member of the Lambda Zeta chapter of Gamma Theta Upsilon founded at WSC in April of 2002 and he was also inducted into Pi Gamma Mu (social sciences honorary) while at WSC.  Nate developed an interest in GIS technology during a class field trip to the Omaha Police Department, where he was able to land an internship upon graduation.  In the last 10 years, he has held several jobs in the field of GIS.  Currently, he is a geographer with the US Army Corps of Engineers Omaha District, where he is involved in both the district and national-level levee safety programs.


Jon Kuddes graduated in 2002 with a major in Geography.  Jon was inducted into Gamma Theta Upsilon while at WSC and also did an internship with the National Weather Service in Valley, NE.  Shortly after graduation, Jon got a job creating maps for Qwest Communications and this allowed him to use his Computer Mapping experience.  Recently, Jon parlayed a part-time job in Mead at the University of Nebraska's ARDC (Agricultural Research and Development Center) into a full-time position as a Research Technologist for the UNL Turf Science Team.  He now uses his background in Geology and Meteorology (two of his favorite courses while at WSC ) when running tests and doing data analysis on research projects.  Jon would be happy to discuss Geography as a career with prospective majors.

Andrew McCloud graduated in 2002 with a degree in Geography.  
He currently resides in Pierre and works for the State of South Dakota's Department of Environment and Natural Resources.  As an Environmental Project Scientist, he serves as Recycling Coordinator for the State of South Dakota.  Part of Andrew’s job involves using GIS and GPS skills to map the locations of recycling facilities and closed municipal solid waste sites.  He would love to discuss majoring in Geography with any current or prospective students.  Write him at Andrew.McCloud@state.sd.us

Jeff Jepsen graduated in December 2000 with subject teaching endorsements in both Geography Education and History Education, as well as a certificate in Coaching.  He earned Honorable Mention in honors grade point average and was also inducted into both Pi Gammu Mu and Phi Alpha Theta.  He won recognition in 2000 as the WSC Outstanding Student in Social Sciences Education.  In 2005, Jeff took a teaching position at Sioux City East High School.  Today he keeps very busy with parenting, teaching, and coaching.  Jeff now knows what teachers were talking about when they said, "Wait till you're in the real world". 

Ricky Sands
graduated in 1999 with a major in History and minors in International Studies and Social Sciences (emphasis on Geography).  Ricky was the winner of the WSC Outstanding Student in Geography Award in 1999.  Having served around the world in the U.S. Navy, Mr. Sands is now a Naval Reservist doing recruiting work and is based in Ft. Worth, TX.

Karl Bender graduated in December of 1998 with a major in Geo-Studies (
known today as Geography at WSC).  Karl joined the U.S. Navy and used his background in Political Geography to help him enter the field of Naval Intelligence.  When visiting family in the area, he still drops by Dr. Bertolas' office from time to time to report on his activities which include being periodically shot off the deck of an aircraft carrier in the Sea of Japan aboard an intelligence-gathering plane.