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Online MGIST Program Gives Veteran a Chance to Focus on Real-World Applications

Greg White grew up in Eastern North Carolina, but has since lived in many places across the country. After graduating from NC State in 1999 with a Bachelor of Science in Geology, White joined the U.S. Army. He now resides in Waldorf, Maryland.

In the past 15 years, White has taken many online classes, both undergraduate and graduate, to pursue his educational goals. In the end, White returned to NC State to complete his online Master of Geospatial Science and Technology (MGIST) degree through the College of Natural Resources.

“The MGIST will allow me to better serve my nation as a federal employee. The degree, while making myself more marketable, will also further the spread of geospatial applications in the government. This will lead to more informative decision-making,” White said about the NC State Online program.

NC State gave White the chance to focus on real-world applications in natural resource conservation and environmental studies.  

“Many of the geospatial programs I have been exposed to taught the software or hardware aspects of Geospatial Information Science (GIS) but never focused on the theoretical aspects.  Knowing how the tools work and how to apply technology to solving a problem is crucial for developing a full understanding of GIS versus how to just push buttons,” said White.

White's MGIST Professional Showcase project: Habitat Suitability for Elephants on the Move

White’s MGIST Professional Showcase project: Habitat Suitability for Elephants on the Move

As part of his Geospatial Information Science master’s project, White said he was able to develop a solution for a customer through critical thinking and collaborative actions. White said many of the courses in the program were taught the same way.

Like any other program, motivation and time management are key. White said prioritization was also very important.

“The Army gave me discipline and drive that has served me well in the pursuit of the MGIST.  Developing a ‘can do’ attitude and never giving up is a skill set every veteran knows how to perform,” said White.

But White relied on more than his Army background to help him accomplish his educational goals.

“I could not have done this without the support of my family, my employer and NC State.”

White added, “NC State made the whole effort easier by providing the services needed through online programs.”

For others who are interested in balancing work with education, White recommends online and distance education courses.

“Life can be crazy and overwhelming. Being a distance education student has allowed me to build my education around other responsibilities, such as family and career,” White said. “Being an online education student is many times more difficult due to the distance factor, but I have never thought of myself as a second priority to on-campus students,” he added.

White earned his MGIST degree on Dec. 16, 2016. He now works as a Branch Chief for the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, which is part of the Department of Defense.

Are you interested in the online MGIST degree offered by the College of Natural Resources? Explore the program and learn how to apply today.