Transforming a Passion Into a Career - Interview With Adrian Walton
Adrian Walton, a University of Wisconsin-Parkside class of 2020 graduate, discovered a passion for improving his community while majoring in geography, minoring in geographic information systems, and completing a global skills certificate. In the fall semester of 2019, he enrolled in GIS and Communities, a community-based learning course, where he learned he wanted to turn his passion into a career.
“We dealt with real-world situations.”
In Professor Caitlin Curtis’ GIS and Communities course, students worked with residents and stakeholders on issues in the Uptown neighborhood and used data and GIS tools to help identify problem-solving solutions. They accomplished the project in partnership with the Uptown Brass Village Neighborhood Association with the support of UW-Extension.
Adrian does not want to say that CBL courses are “non-traditional”, as they did complete coursework like every other class. However, the difference to him is what he experienced beyond the confines of a textbook as they had to improvise and change the curriculum as needed.
He also believes this course made him more active in the Kenosha community, as well as the Parkside community. Adrian says it gave him an “ethical perspective on people” and made him realize how much of a disconnect there is between diverse groups of people no matter which community he is involved in. This realization continues to motivate his drive for connecting cultures to better understand one another. Not only that, but he believes, “This being a small campus, I think it is really important that people on an academic level still want people to improve how things are done in the area.”
“It gave me a leg-up on the job market.”
Adrian believes the most rewarding thing about taking a CBL course is hard work paying off after such a demanding workload. He felt accomplished and proud knowing that he was building skills that employers would want to see while helping out his community at the same time. When asked about what skills set him apart, he replied, “Well, if you put down that you took a ton of classes and aced all these tests, it does look good. But it is more useful to show that you got out in the community and did a project that you can put on a resume. CBL classes definitely help you decide what route you want to take in your career.”
And the advice Adrian has for students questioning if community-based learning classes are right for them? He says, “Keep an open mind. It is rewarding more than anything.”