College of Arts & Science at Miami University
Jason Connel Young (Class of 2009)
- geography major (with Spanish & Economics minors)
- from Dayton
- was on both the President's and Dean's Lists for consistent academic achievement
Our original conversation with Jason was conducted in fall 2008.
Update (January 20, 2010)
Where Are You Now?
Following graduation I was hired by the Geospatial Research and Engineering Division of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Located in Washington, DC, I work with several research teams to develop geospatial tools and technologies to support warfighters in their understanding of human terrain. For example, one project I'm working on aims to create a central database of ethnic, linguistic, and religious maps for educational and intelligence purposes.
The technical skills and research opportunities I received within the Department of Geography prepared me well for my job in research. Those Miami graduates interested in a job with the federal government are welcome to contact me at Jason.C.Young@usace.army.mil.
How did you choose MU?
I found that Miami put a lot of effort into their students' education and gave them a chance to study abroad ... it made it to the top of my list. It also helped immensely that I received a Harrison Scholarship that paid for my boarding and lodging while I was in school.
The Honors program faculty have helped me find funding opportunities and other support ... And then there are independent research projects with the focus on actual real-world research at the undergraduate level.
Are the programs what you thought they were going to be like?
The Honors program faculty have helped me find funding opportunities and other support. I have thoroughly enjoyed the small seminar classes ... they are discussion oriented and allow for better expression. I like the freedom of choosing from a wide spectrum of classes across disciplines that allows for my creativity. And then there are independent research projects with the focus on actual real-world research at the undergraduate level.
The Department of Geography really challenged me by inviting me to take certain 600-level classes. I like the fact that the graduate students and my professors have accepted me in the graduate community within the department. Through my interactions with them, I have been lucky to be able to get to do a lot of independent research as part of my undergraduate experience. The department is small and tight knit and I seem to thrive in such an atmosphere. I have found my mentors among the Master's students and faculty of the department.
[My independent research projects in Peru and Germany] have enriched my Miami undergraduate experience by giving me a greater appreciation of world culture.
What unique opportunities have you taken advantage of at Miami?
The Rufford Small Grant for Nature Conservation, a $10,000 award, financed my independent study research trip to Peru where I worked on how maps can be used politically. Faculty members from the Department of Geography advised me during the application process.
While in Peru, I made maps of indigenous traditional sites along the Amazon River. The regional government could then use these maps to establish a regional conservation area. From our work in there, we were able to present at two international conferences and are currently working on manuscripts for publication. This project really opened my eyes to the exciting field of geographic information science.
In Berlin, Germany, I conducted another independent study project in conjunction with an architectural class I was taking at Miami. There I studied how power and space intersect to create community ... I studied public spaces and the architecture of the Wall and other important tourist sites in the city.
These projects have enriched my Miami undergraduate experience by giving me a greater appreciation of world culture. My independent projects have given me fresh perspectives on such things as racial quotas, socio-economic status, and diversity. I feel I have a responsibility to give back to the world as a result.
What have you learned about yourself as a leader at Miami?
I was a member of the Committee to Redesign the Harrison Scholarship which was formed to improve the Harrison community and organized events ... like the Harrison Olympics ... a one-day event of sports and competitions. I also organized a student trip to Italy two years ago. These were valuable experiences that I expect to use later in life.
What is the best thing about living on campus?
Living in the Heritage Dorms has been great ... all of my friends are from there and we have formed this nice community. On Parents' Weekend, a bunch of us get together and hosted a brunch for visiting parents.
So how do you balance it all?
Work hard, play hard and take regular naps.
What advice would you give prospective students /incoming freshmen?
I would say get to know your professors and maintain good relationships with them.
What are your plans after school?
I am certainly considering graduate school. I have applied for the Goldman Prize at Miami and have been nominated by Miami for a Rhodes Scholarship ... I hope to be going to the University of Oxford in the UK.