#PROFspective: Geographic Information Systems Major Tim Lemon

Today we speak with Tim Lemon, a senior Geographic Information Systems major from Glendora (Camden County), NJ, who commutes. He will share his #PROFspective with us on what it’s like to be a Rowan University student and how he’s getting the most out of his college experience as a Rowan Prof.

boy stands in front of an earth map with #ROWANproud shirt onYour Name: Tim Lemon
Your Major: Geographic Information Science
Your Minor and concentration: Minors: Environmental Studies, PlanningConcentration: Honors
Your Year: Senior
Hometown and County: Glendora, NJ in Camden County
Commuter: Yes, from home

Academic clubs: Honors Concentration

Social clubs: Rowan GEO Club

Do you work on campus? For the past three years I’ve worked for the Athletics Department, providing and operating a sound system for men and women’s soccer games, track meets, and cross country meets. In between songs at Rowan track meets I also habitually pitch in some time with the hurdle crew and volunteer to rake the long jump pits. Also, I have just begun working as a Lab Monitor/Classroom Helper for a section of Intro to Mapping and GIS offered by the Department of Geography, Planning, and Sustainability.

Do you have an off-campus job? GIS Specialist at American Water in Mount Laurel.

Why did you choose your major? After changing majors from mechanical engineering, GIS sounded interesting and, more importantly, seemed like it would provide the opportunity to work outside when collecting data with a GPS unit. The prospect of being cooped up in an office on a daily basis kind of terrifies me, so potentially having the opportunity to get outside in a different space whether it is to take the inventory of a water utility system, monitor natural processes or wildlife abundance, or understand the importance of a place in its own right affords a certain amount of freedom I would ideally like to have in a job. The ability to “go and see” while also possessing a desired technical skill seemed to strike the perfect balance in my mind between maintaining a level of interest and individuality and the practicality of having positive job market prospects.

boy sits outside under the clock with his guitar in handOne reason why you chose Rowan? At the outset of my college career, I chose Rowan because it was the best financial option for me. However, after changing majors it became apparent that I made the best choice because all of the other schools that I had applied to were out-of-state engineering schools and me and engineering didn’t quite get along as fate would have it. Although going away for college was what I thought I wanted when I was a high school senior, I found out that what I needed was right in my backyard, just a 15-minute drive down Route 41. Being that close to home gave me the opportunity to save money by commuting and focus on some of the other things that I wanted to get out of school and, looking forward, out of a job.

My typical day as a Rowan student:

Although my schedule isn’t necessarily jam-packed on Thursdays since I only have two classes, Thursday is still my busiest day on campus this semester. I only have one class on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. But, before I get too far ahead of myself, as I seem to have a habit of doing (I have a planning minor after all), I don’t have class until 11:00 and there are a few things that I like to do to complete my morning ritual before journeying the 15 minutes from Glendora to Glassboro.Tim sits at the computer looking at his work with a globe on his desk

Ideally, I’ll wake up on Thursdays around 8:30 or 9:00-ish depending on what time I went to bed the night before and how much I decide to like the snooze button. My morning routine is heavily contingent on how much work I was able to get done the previous night and whether or not any time-sensitive tasks are due over the next two days. Considering that working two to three soccer games a week and putting nine hours in at the office in Mount Laurel on Mondays are a bit of a drain on my time, the work done on Wednesday nights has been minimal while deadlines continue looming at the end of the week. But the other days in the week provide the time and opportunities I need to finish my coursework for Senior Seminar and Sensing the Sustainable City, but back to Thursday morning.

Tim is leaning on the Robinson Hall sign outside of the building I’ll typically get up and exercise to really wake up my body and prepare myself for the day ahead because it’s going to be a long one. Before my family closed our pool, I’d go for a two or three mile run that culminated in me proceeding directly into the pool’s cool, refreshing morning water. After returning inside, showering, and getting changed, I sit down for a quiet, tranquil breakfast as my parents are at work and my little brother is already off to school. Depending on how much time I have before leaving while remembering that I should leave my house a bit early to “ensure” that I find a good parking spot, breakfast varies between oatmeal and a cup of tea, homemade chia seed pudding and fruit, or an omelet if I’m feeling ambitious. I really love to cook and because homework usually takes up my evenings, I have to fit it in when I can and breakfast usually provides the perfect opportunity. Before I know it, the time is 10:03 and I have to shatter the serenity and scarf down the last few bites of breakfast or I’ll be driving around Lot D in circles for 20 minutes hoping that I find someone going to their car.

Between my off-campus job at American Water, on-campus jobs, attending class, and completing classwork, I’m currently spread a little thin and don’t necessarily have an abundance of personal time so I have to take it where I can get it. One of those times is my drive to Rowan. I’m an old man at heart and pride myself on my CD collection so driving anywhere and listening to my favorite music (Dispatch’s America, Location 12 and Dawes’ All Your Favorite Bands have been in constant rotation, trying to channel some summer nostalgia) always makes for an enjoyable ride.

Tim is upstairs outside of the student center sitting on a bench holding his guitar

Further, as a musician (I play guitar, ukulele, mandolin, and sing) the good vibes put forth by hearing my favorite artists do their thing put me in a good mood if I wasn’t already in one on my way to campus. I usually park in Lot D just off of Bowe Boulevard between Glassboro High and Richard Wackar Stadium, but this semester I’m resigned to parking wherever I can find a spot first.

My first class, from 11:00 to 1:45, is Sensing the Sustainable City with Dr. Jen Kitson in Robinson Hall and if my morning run failed to get me going, I know that Dr. Kitson has some activity in place to hold my interest and jump start my morning-turning-afternoon. Class usually starts with a journal entry we’ve come to know as a sensory body scan which borders on meditation. Channeling positive energies, we then discuss principles of urban design and the ways in which planners can better incorporate more sustainable, lively, and healthy elements in public city spaces by observing public life and adhering to the sensory aspects of their observations. Dr. Kitson also breaks up the long double lecture period with more interactive activities and the class time flies by, most of the time faster than she would prefer.

Tim is standing in a geography room with a globe and rocks In between Dr. Kitson’s class and Songs of Praise and Protest with Dr. Lourin Plant at 3:30 in Wilson Hall, I’ll usually try to get some work done in the Geography Department to pass the time. Most often, my friends in the department will distract me and I won’t get anything done, but regardless I almost always volunteer myself to help people in the computer lab with any GIS projects or labs. I’m genuinely curious when it comes to what other people are mapping and I like helping out so this is a very welcome distraction. Maybe I should’ve been an education major … mmhmm … well, it’s too late to change now nor would I actually want to because I like the Geography Department so much.

In what feels like the blink of an eye, it’s suddenly 3:20 and it’s time to walk over to Wilson to talk about the elements of musical composition and symbolism in protest songs and historic spirituals. As a lover of music, and especially meaningful music with an explicit message or one that is up to interpretation, I am really excited for this class and to see how it shapes up over the course of the semester. Our first assignment was to develop a Top 10 list of our favorite songs that helped identify us as an ice breaker, what’s not to love here? If I thought that the time flies by in Dr. Kitson’s class, Dr. Plant expertly uses the 75 minutes in Songs of Praise and Protest but it ultimately feels like 75 seconds. At the end of class, I return to the Geography Department for about an hour and a half to eat my granola bar and fruit that will hold me over until I go home while I catch up on the Senior Seminar work that I didn’t get around to earlier.Tim is standing at a desk of rocks on display

At 6:30 or so, I venture into Robinson 302 to begin my Lab Monitor duties where Professor Katrina McCarthy is just beginning the lecture portion of class with her section of Intro to Mapping and GIS. After her lecture is complete, the students in the class assume their positions at the computers in the back of the room and get to work on the night’s lab assignment. This is where I feel the most accomplished on a daily basis. It’s not at the conclusion of a weekly reading and quiz assignment, or after finishing an essay, it’s right here in the Intro class where I’m able to answer questions and help people, tangibly seeing the effects of my assistance and advice. Again, maybe I should’ve been a teacher…but probably not – to be a teacher, you need to teach and I like helping out just fine. Around 9:30, I shut off the lights and close the door, proceeding to traipse across campus to my car and commence the daily pilgrimage home.

Tim is in computer lab throwing a globe blow- up ball in the air Once home, I’ll immediately go to the fridge and forage for leftovers if I’ve cooked dinner in the last few nights (a big batch of vegetarian chili or quinoa goes a long way), but sometimes I’ve got to enjoy the perks of living at home and eat whatever my mom cooked that night. Exhausted, yet feeling accomplished at the end of such a long day, it’s not quite time for bed around 10:30. No, this is another instance of that sometimes-elusive personal time. It’s at this time that I decompress and reflect on the day by playing some music.

I have my amplifier and loop pedal set up in my basement and I’ll lose myself, if only for 20 minutes or so, in crafting a harmonizing soundscape with my guitar or ukulele, laying down a chord progression, layering riffs, and adding a percussive track by tapping the body of my instrument. With so many other things pulling me in so many directions on a daily basis, I ground myself with music. It’s important to enjoy these little things and maintain a creative outlet and, after exercising that side of my brain, it’s time to promptly pass out. Gotta be up and at campus early on Friday for Senior Seminar at 9:30, but I’m motivated by the weekend that is just around the corner.

Tim is outside sitting on a bench at a picnic table with his guitar

Story organized and photography by:
Vanessa Vause, junior public relations major and advertising minor 

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