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Flexibility and Technology Helped MGIST Alumnus Succeed

Anthony Fairfax, a husband and father, currently lives and works in Hampton, Virginia.

He specializes in redistricting as a demographic and mapping consultant.

Fairfax graduated from NC State in December 2016, earning his Master of Geospatial Information Science and Technology (MGIST) degree through NC State Online and Distance Education. The decision to enroll and attend NC State wasn’t difficult for Fairfax. He wanted to earn his master’s degree from a prestigious university that had a graduate degree in his current field of work.

After doing a little research, Fairfax learned that NC State had one of the top online MGIST programs in the country.

“I have a wife, and two young children and online seemed to be the best solution to achieving my education goals and maintaining a family lifestyle,” Fairfax said. “I could drive to the campus within a few hours, if necessary,” he added.

Flexibility was key for Fairfax, as it is for many online and distance education students.

“Although the number of hours that you end up working in an online and distance education course may be significant, even possibly greater than campus courses, the flexibility of when and where you do the course work is invaluable,” he said.

He also praised NC State’s technology to provide quality online and distance education courses.

“A good online or distance education program, like the one at NC State, leverages technology to provide a productive and useful learning environment for the student,” he said.

If there was ever an issue, he received help from both instructors and technical support.

“They always responded in a sufficient amount of time to alleviate the problem,” Fairfax said.

Due to his involvement with a number of consulting projects with work, Fairfax started off as a part-time student. During his last several online courses, Fairfax decided to reduce his workload to focus more on his course work. One of those courses included his MGIST Capstone course, which ended up being one of his favorites.

“The course is designed for the students to work with a client to solve one of the client’s projects. The projects usually incorporate many skillsets that were learned throughout the entire program, Fairfax said. He added that the course and project were both “challenging and satisfying.”

Now that he’s earned his master’s degree, how does he plan to use it?

“I plan to utilize my degree to expand and enhance the projects that I work on. Prior to this program, I focused on mostly GIS efforts that utilized census geographic and demographic data. After this program, I have expanded my consulting services to include many more types of analysis, specifically ones utilizing raster data,” Fairfax said.  

For those uncertain what raster data is, a raster consists of a matrix of cells (or pixels) organized into a grid where each cell contains a value representing information. Rasters can be digital aerial photographs, imagery from satellites, digital pictures, or even scanned maps.

Are you interested in earning a Master of Geospatial Information Science Technology degree online from the Center of Geospatial Analytics?  Learn more about all of our Online GIS education opportunities by visiting our GIST Online website.