Alison Cuconato

Upon my completion of high school,  I was unsure of the direction I wanted to go in, but I knew for a fact that I was passionate about the environment and protecting it.  After browsing several Universities and programs/courses offered, I found that the Honors BA with Specialization in Geography program at the University of Ottawa would best suit my interests.  The courses offered in the geography program here are diverse and challenging, from human geography, to physical geography, to Geographic Information Systems (GIS), there really is something for everyone. 

Personally, I was most interested in physical geography and natural resources management and the geography program at Ottawa U had many courses to offer in these areas. Some included hydrology, biogeography, climatology, and geomorphology. What is great about the program here is that it offers a multitude of practical experience which is only offered at seldom Universities and will help you throughout your career. Ottawa U provided me with excellent field, lab and analytical skills which helped build the foundation for my career. Students in this program have the opportunity to gain practical experience by taking part in many field courses in both human and physical geography. The geography program also offers the opportunity to learn GIS skills and apply these to labs and field exercises. Although GIS may be challenging for some, it is a very valuable analysis and visual tool. Ottawa U provided the appropriate amount of training for students to become well versed in using Arc Software and applying it to real life practical situations for analysis, which is hard to come across in other geography programs. 

The focus on field work and GIS offered in this program is very valuable and what kick started my career with the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario (MTO). Upon graduating from the geography program , I was able to further build on my GIS and geography skills and I enrolled in the GIS graduate program at Algonquin College. With this experience, I landed a job after graduation from Algonquin College with the MTO in the Geomatics Department where I specialized in creating thematic maps and performing spatial analyses. After a year in this position I moved onto the position of a Transportation Technician where I now administer contracts with moderate to high environmental impacts in environmentally sensitive areas around Eastern Ontario. This position offers me the opportunity to utilize and build on my environmental knowledge, use GIS as an analysis and visual tool, and be in the field assessing environmental impacts presented from construction activities as well as recommending solutions to impacts.
The geography program at Ottawa U and courses taken provided me with environmental and GIS knowledge needed in order to be the successful candidate for my career with the MTO. If you have a passion for the environment, whether it be studying human geography, physical geography or spatial patterns and movements in general, this program may be a great match for you!

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