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Intelligence and Online Education: Finding a Fit for the Love of GIS

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virtual-education-optionsBy Jessica Ross
Online Learning Tips, Guest Student Contributor

All my life, from the moment I knew what the word meant and could pronounce it, I wanted to be a veterinarian. However, like most children who want to be firemen or astronauts, life had different plans for me. In high school I got involved in professional level projects involving Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and just fell in love with the technology and with the idea of using this technology to serve others. However I had no idea how to make that happen. At that time there were only a couple schools in the country that offered bachelor’s degrees in GIS. I put it by the wayside for a few years while life took me away from traditional brick-and-mortar college, where I felt tied down and lost, and into the crazy life of a wife to an active duty Marine. It was that decision that led me to American Military University (AMU).

After speaking with one of my husband’s instructors about my love for GIS and desire to serve people she directed me to AMU and its intelligence studies degree as well as the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) that uses GIS and other technologies to serve the country via mapping and imagery intelligence. I was a bit nervous about AMU at first. I had heard all of the horror stories about online colleges that were just rip offs and a waste of time but after some  time spent researching I realized that was not the case with AMU. As a military wife I found it particularly appealing because of the flexibility of when I could do my classes (my husband was working a crazy swing shift), when I could start my classes (first Monday of every month), and where I could do my classes (all I needed was Internet so I could go on vacation and still complete my classes). I started my studies with AMU a few months later and used my experience in high school and my studies at AMU to land an amazing scholarship, internship, and job with NGA.

My time with AMU has been amazing. I have come away with some great knowledge from vastly experienced professors and fellow students that I know I could not have gotten anywhere else. Classes are taught by and shared with people who prove that it is not always a case of “those who can’t do, teach.” When it comes to something as particular as the Intelligence Community that practical experience is vital. I am so grateful to have found AMU and for the future it has given my family and me.

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