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Saint Paul College A Community & Technical College

GIS Alumni Solving Pressing Challenges across the US

​Geographic Information Systems (GIS) is a growing field used by governments and businesses to solve a range of complex, pressing challenges. Two Saint Paul College GIS alums have taken their education to new heights as they use these unique skills throughout the United States.

John Kessel holds a master’s degree in City and Regional Planning and most recently worked asPhoto of John Kessel an Analyst in various positions with Sonoma County, California. In this position, John coordinated with multiple government agencies on various topics, from ecological restorations to monitoring wildfire risk. John recently moved to Minnesota and enrolled in the Saint Paul College GIS program. He has excelled in using GIS to address some of the most pressing challenges he faced when working on wildfires in California. His work culminated with the creation of a robust and interactive StoryMap, featuring the application of geospatial model building and machine learning in wildfire recovery using the 2019 Kincade Fire. This vital work earned John a 2022 MN GIS/LIS Student Scholarship. John’s associated poster competed at the annual conference in October and took first place. According to Instructor Kirk Stueve, this award is notable because John competed in the undergraduate division, where only students from the main UMN campus, UMD, and elite private schools typically win the competition.

Photo of Galen KanazawaGalen Kanazawa received his AAS degree in GIS in 2020. Galen was exposed to many GIS topics, including principles of cartography, spatial analysis, remote sensing, and programming and scripting for GIS. This background, combined with his prior bachelor’s degree, enabled him to be accepted into the prestigious online Master’s program in GIS Development at the University of Wisconsin, where he recently finished earning this degree. Galen now works as a Research Analyst at the Minnesota Department of Transportation. He credits his education at Saint Paul College as providing him with the essential tools he needed to receive his advanced degree and become a key member of the workforce.

The GIS Program at Saint Paul College is designed to train students in the practical application of geospatial technology. Most students in the program work full-time, so classes are offered outside regular business hours.

Saint Paul College has a successful history of working with the Minnesota GIS/LIS Consortium to obtain student scholarships and initiate creative projects. The mission of the MN GIS/LIS Consortium is to develop and support GIS professionals in Minnesota for the benefit of our state and its citizens.

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