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Journey through geospatial frontiers: Alumna’s path from Auburn’s CFWE to GIS management

By September 1, 2023September 26th, 2023No Comments

Meet Emily Razzano, CFWE alumna and GIS Manager at the South Carolina Emergency Management Division

Emily proudly holds her Know Your Zone map, a map that is part of the 2022 South Carolina Hurricane Guide, marking the first public release of her impactful maps.Emily proudly holds her Know Your Zone map, a map that is part of the 2022 South Carolina Hurricane Guide, marking the first public release of her impactful maps.

Emily Razzano, a distinguished alumna who graduated from Auburn University in 2020 with a bachelor’s in geospatial and environmental informatics (GSEI), shares her remarkable journey from academia to becoming a Geographic Information System (GIS ) Manager at the South Carolina Emergency Management Division (SCEMD). Her insights shed light on the transformative power of education, mentorship, and seizing opportunities. 

“My favorite thing about my career is that every day is so different.”

The dynamic nature of her role as a GIS Manager at SCEMD is apparent as she delves into the diverse challenges she faces. One day, she’s creating intricate maps for counties; the next she’s collaborating with state and federal partners during exercises, showcasing the real-time capabilities of GSEI. She enjoys helping partners and leadership make informed decisions through the lens of data and mapping, transforming complex information into actionable insights. 

CFWE’s impact on Emily’s GSEI journey

Emily Razzano is presented with the “SCEMD Employee of the Quarter” award for January 2023- March 2023

Emily is presented with the “SCEMD Employee of the Quarter” award for January 2023- March 2023 

Emily credits CFWE for providing her with a solid foundation. The unique blend of forestry education and GIS training within the GSEI program gave her a strong environmental background. Hands-on experiences with surveying tools, land navigation, and remote sensing set her apart. The support of her professors and mentors instilled the confidence she needed to excel in her career, fostering a belief that she could achieve anything she set her mind to. 

“CFWE did a fantastic job teaching us the skills needed to work in the field of GIS, from programming classes to land navigation and even tree identification.”

Emily’s journey to GSEI was a fascinating shift from her original engineering path. Drawn by her love for nature and science, she discovered GSEI’s unique blend of environmental science and geospatial informatics to be exactly what she wanted. The allure of GSEI and her father’s influence, who worked with satellites at NASA, ignited her passion. Her first GIS class with Dr. Susan Pan cemented her decision, and she embraced GSEI wholeheartedly, even as it was being shaped.

“GSEI was a brand new major when I was a sophomore at Auburn… the GSEI degree caught my eye because it combined nature and science. Going into GSEI, I honestly had no idea what it was or how it would change my future. Getting to be a part of one of the first groups to graduate with a degree in GSEI was very special.

Community at CFWE

Emily Razzano at the 2022 Governor’s Hurricane Tabletop Exercise with the poster from her team at the South Carolina Emergency Management Division.
Emily at the 2022 Governor’s Hurricane Tabletop Exercise with the poster from her team at the South Carolina Emergency Management Division.
 

Reflecting on her time, Emily emphasizes the role of community. Professors like Dr. Pan and the late Dr. Winemiller left indelible marks through their passion for GSEI and real-world applications. Emily fondly remembers Dr. Pan,

“She loved the first small group of GSEI majors like we were her kids; I remember seeing how passionate she was about GIS and remote sensing and feeling so inspired.”

Dr. Pan’s unwavering dedication to her students was evident through her open-door policy and eagerness to help at any juncture. Her commitment extended beyond the classroom as she actively sought avenues for her students to grow both as individuals and as contributors to the evolution of the GSEI degree. This nurturing mentorship was pivotal in shaping Emily’s professional trajectory and instilling a lasting appreciation for the power of education and mentorship.

“I am genuinely so thankful for all the fantastic people I met and learned from at CFWE.” 

Navigating success: Emily’s advice to current and aspiring GSEI students

Emily at Bellefonte Nuclear Generating Station, an inactive facility used by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for training and tours, giving her a unique glimpse into reactor operations.
Emily at Bellefonte Nuclear Generating Station, an inactive facility used by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for training and tours, giving her a unique glimpse into reactor operations.
 

When asked about the guidance she might offer current GSEI students, Emily’s advice is firmly grounded in resilience and embracing opportunities. She encourages students to embrace the journey, starting at the bottom and working their way up. Taking chances, breathing through challenges, and harnessing the strength of the Auburn family are her mantras for success.  

“It is hard to find a job in your field right out of college, the best thing is not to give up.”

Emily extends a heartfelt offer of help to current students, acknowledging the support she received and her desire to pay it forward. Her experiences at CFWE have enriched her life, and she’s eager to share her insights to empower the next generation of students. 

Emily Razzano’s journey from CFWE to GIS Management showcases the transformational power of education, mentorship, and perseverance. Her story serves as a beacon of inspiration for current and prospective students alike, reinforcing the idea that the possibilities are limitless with the right education and a supportive community. 

Learn more about CFWE’s Geospatial & Environmental Informatics degree

Click here to learn more about the College of Forestry, Wildlife and Environment’s Geospatial & Environmental Informatics degree program.

Path to the Plains

Path to the Plains (P2P) is a concurrent enrollment program offered by Auburn University and partner community college institutions designed for students who want to transfer to Auburn to finish their bachelor’s degrees once they have completed their associate’s degrees.

The Path to the Plains program provides academic support to students throughout their time at the partner institution and helps prepare them for a successful transition to Auburn.

For more information on Path to the Plains, visit https://auburn.edu/academic/provost/pathways/path-to-the-plains/

(Written by Allison Killingsworth)

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