URISA Announces 2023 Young Professional Scholarship Winners


Sharing is Caring

URISA is pleased to announce that Jordan Landrum and Christina Sabochick are the recipients of 2023 Dr. Marilyn O’Hara Ruiz Young Professional Scholarships*. The scholarship fully supports young professional participation in URISA’s GIS-Pro annual conference, fostering their professional connections and educational development.

Selection Criteria

• Demonstrated work and/or research within the GIS (or related) industry

• Quality of responses to essay questions

• Impact of work, contributions to the GIS field

• Letter of recommendation

URISA established the scholarship program which selects up to two young professionals (35 years old or younger) to attend GIS-Pro in-person. The scholarship application is rigorous, and the evaluation committee appreciates the effort and detail with which all candidates presented their qualifications.

Meet this year’s winners:

Jordan Landrum is currently the GIS Assistant at the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area (CRNRA) by way of the NPS Scientists in Parks program. Prior to that, she was a GIS Technician and Fellow at the Center for Geospatial Analysis, at William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia. In her position, she helped a weekly average of 30 students of mixed technical backgrounds troubleshoot problems with geospatial projects and provides technical assistance to students, faculty, and external partners on projects that utilized geospatial technologies and data management. Jordan managed an external long-term project related to hunger, food security, grown food access, health outcomes, school nutrition programs, and farmers markets in Virginia, used GIS and programming to manage data and update map series visualizations for website. She created and managed social media content to promote geospatial events, organizations, and dialogue; organized a monthly speaker series with an average of 40 attendees bringing together students and GIS practitioners to engage a wider audience in the geospatial field, facilitated networking and increased awareness of GIS-related issues; and taught geospatial software to over 215 students and faculty members across different disciplines to ensure successful completion of course work and served as continuous support. Jordan earned her Bachelor of Science in Data Science, Spatial Data Analytics Track from William & Mary, Williamsburg, Virginia in May 2022. Jordan was a WMSURE Scholar and received a full-tuition merit scholarship awarded for leadership, character, resilience.

Shannon White is a faculty member at the William & Mary Center for Geospatial Analysis (CGA) and noted, "I have known Jordan since her undergraduate experience studying Data Science with an emphasis in spatial data at William & Mary. And for the past year in her one-year Fellowship within the Center for Geospatial Analysis where I have served as her supervisor. With 20+ years of experience in Geospatial Education in K-12 and Higher Education, I want to emphasize that Jordan Landrum is one of the most impressive, kind, detail oriented, and tenacious young professionals I have encountered. As a young woman of color and a first-generation college graduate, Jordan has demonstrated a genuine thirst for knowledge and impressive career trajectory in our field. Jordan was selected as only one of two Fellows in the Center for Geospatial Analysis for Academic Year 2022-23 based on her academic scholarship, her work ethic, her teamwork as seen in her passion in the sport of Women’s Rugby and her leadership on and off the field. I wholeheartedly endorse Jordan's participation in the GIS-Pro Conference. Her remarkable expertise at her career stage, consummate professionalism, and genuine passion for GIS render her an outstanding representative of our organization and a valuable contributor to the GIS community at large. I am confident that Jordan will seize this opportunity to make substantial contributions to the conference and further advance her own professional growth."

Christina Sabochick just completed her term as a Fellow at the William & Mary Center for Geospatial Analysis (CGA) where she supported the geospatial technical needs of 200+ faculty, staff, and students who utilize the CGA workspace each week. She mentored a cohort of 23 CGA research students, interns and REUs contributing to GPS surveying, wildlife restoration, habitat suitability modeling, public health, and asset management-related projects; produced and updated web applications for projects involving gerrymandering analysis and conservation easements; co-managed the CGA web presence, monthly speaker series, and W&M ArcGIS Online organization with 3,000+ users; and gave in-class demos on Esri software to over 150 students and faculty members. She was a student researcher at the W&M Institute for Integrative Conservation (IIC). She graduated from William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia with a Bachelor of Science, Biology and Environmental Science in January 2022. While studying, Christina held a number of leadership and volunteer roles.

Shannon White also recommended Christina for the scholarship. She has had the pleasure of teaching and working with Christina for over 3 years; first, as her professor, then, as her mentor while she served as a CGA teaching assistant and intern, and currently, as her supervisor for the CGA’s post-baccalaureate fellowship. She notes, "To say Christina is a student and colleague that one should keep an eye on in the next phase of her geospatial career, is an understatement. I have worked with thousands of K-12, undergraduate and graduate students in my 20+ years in Geospatial Education in Higher Ed, and Christina is a young woman who is among the top 2% of those students whom I have worked with in this capacity. Christina goes above and beyond to seek opportunities for growth and building her skills. She jumps at any chance to not only attend events, but share her expertise through presentations, and has incredible presentation skills that often lead to follow-up collaborative opportunities for the CGA. Her qualities of organization, attentiveness, and go-getter attitude make it easy to envision her as an active participant in GIS-Pro 2023."

Christina and Jordan will both attend GIS-Pro 2023 in Columbus, Ohio in October.

URISA is pleased to support these young professionals, along with so many others who are the future leaders of the organization.

A core strategic goal for URISA is to support GIS professionals at all stages of their careers. URISA has established a number of programs to support young professionals and has active participation through programs such as GISCorps with abundant, diverse and rewarding volunteer opportunities, the URISA GIS Leadership Academy, and the Vanguard Cabinet which collaborates with URISA leaders and committees to create programs and opportunities geared toward other young professionals. Learn more about the scholarship, and consider donating to support future winners here.

* This scholarship fund was established in 2018 and honors Dr. Marilyn Ruiz. During Dr. Ruiz's career at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, she provided her undergraduate, graduate and post-doctoral students with excellent research experiences in her laboratory which helped them to have successful careers in academia, government, and industry. Marilyn was passionate about her role as a mentor of graduate education.

Explore more: Education

Geospatial Newsletters

Keep up to date with the latest geospatial trends!

Sign up

Search DM

Get Directions Magazine delivered to you
Please enter a valid email address
Please let us know that you're not a robot by using reCAPTCHA.
Sorry, there was a problem submitting your sign up request. Please try again or email editors@directionsmag.com

Thank You! We'll email you to verify your address.

In order to complete the subscription process, simply check your inbox and click on the link in the email we have just sent you. If it is not there, please check your junk mail folder.

Thank you!

It looks like you're already subscribed.

If you still experience difficulties subscribing to our newsletters, please contact us at editors@directionsmag.com