Katie Cann I Am Geo

I Am Geography



My ah-ha come-to-geography moment was in middle school when my parents bought me a world map for Christmas. I had just caught the travel bug, and was also interested in covering my walls with cool posters. I laid out the map on my living room floor under the Christmas tree and realized just how small the world was, that I wanted to learn all about it, change it for the better, and that you could spend hours getting lost in a map.

Still unaware that there was such a discipline to study as “geography,” I headed to the George Washington University to study International Environmental Studies, hoping to learn about the environmental policies of all those countries on my map. Thanks to some fortuitous curriculum overlap, I landed in a physical geography class, took one GIS lab, and realized “geography” was where I was supposed to be.

After declaring myself a geography major, taking courses with some extremely inspiring professors, and pursuing research in and around Washington, DC, I found myself continuing into graduate school. Then, I found myself in Panama doing fieldwork on community conservation and tourism. I found myself, again, travelling to Boston, New Orleans, Costa Rica, to share my research and learn from an amazing community of scholars working towards understanding the world. From examining urban migration patterns, to climate change in the Arctic, to social connections on a soccer field, geographers are using innovative techniques and rigorous inquiry to educate, inform policy, and to tell our story.

Now I find myself at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey working as a Leadership Fellow. Though now, more than ever, I’m having to explain what a geographer is, being the one person in the room with a geographic point of view affords the opportunity to offer unique and dynamic solutions to 21st century transportation challenges. I still want to change the world for the better and now I have the tools. I turn to geography—techniques, thought, inquiry—to help me find those solutions, and also to find myself.


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