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Nuzhat Parveen: April's GIS Ambassador

Meet Nuzhat Parveen, this month’s GIS Ambassador. Find out how she has been promoting geography and GIS in K-12 education in Ontario.

April’s GIS Ambassador is Nuzhat Parveen from Mississauga, Ontario. She’s been an active volunteer for a year and half, visiting schools in the Greater Toronto Area. Nuzhat shared with us her experience as a GIS Ambassador and why she decided to pursue a career in the field of GIS.

Nuzhat Parveen enjoys sharing her passion for geography through her GIS Ambassador work.

Can you share with us the road that led you to GIS?

I am of Bangladeshi origin and came to Canada in 2008 after I completed high school. I began my higher education at York University in computer science but within a year I realized it wasn’t the right field for me.

I like to visualize things and I was looking for something that would take me closer to nature, so I decided to study physical geography which I believe is a wonderful amalgamation of nature and science. I ended up doing a Bachelor of Science with specialized honors in physical geography.

While I was at York, I took an introductory GIS course which was my first exposure to the technology. One of the projects I worked on was called “Change Detection in the Forest Coverage of Sundarbans Mangrove Forest From 1999 to 2003”. While doing the research, I was completely blown away by the satellite images of the mangrove forest. Mapping the land cover and seeing the changes in vegetation coverage of the forest sparked my interest. This inspired me to pursue a career in the field of GIS. After I finished my undergrad, I enrolled in the postgraduate certificate program in GIS - Geospatial Management at Niagara College.

How have you supported the use of GIS in K-12 education in the last year and a half?

My first school visit was in the fall of 2017 at Fairview Public School in Mississauga where I worked with Grade 3 and Grade 4 students. Using story maps created by the K-12 group at Esri Canada, I introduced them to GIS and we explored Canada’s physical geography.

In May 2018, I conducted Elementary Career Awareness Workshops to Grade 7 and Grade 8 students at the Skills Ontario event. The purpose of the workshops was to introduce the students to GIS, Ontario colleges that offer GIS programs and GIS career possibilities.

Earlier this year, I conducted two workshops for Grade 9 students at Father Bressani High School in Woodbridge. The presentation started with the basics of mapping and explained the difference between topographic and thematic maps. I briefly explained the elements that are required to create a good map and used a couple of story maps to show the students how they are used to highlight a topic. At the end of the presentation, students worked on an introductory ArcGIS Online tutorial called “Discover ArcGIS Online.”

Tentatively, I plan to return to Father Bressani before the end of the school year to conduct a couple more workshops with the students. I look forward to returning to the school.

Nuzhat sharing her passion for GIS to high school students earlier this year.

It’s a pleasure for me to work with teachers and students and I am also interested in presenting on GIS Day or other events. I am planning to create my own story map which I will use at the upcoming workshops as I think it’s a great way to present content.

Why do you think it’s important to be a GIS Ambassador?

GIS Ambassadors play a vital role in sharing the importance of geography and GIS. We can engage students through hands-on workshops that are not only fun and interesting but can also help them to develop spatial and analytical skills through the use of GIS tools. If we can introduce the use of GIS at an early age, then students have the opportunity to be well prepared for higher education and beyond, as these skills and tools are sought after by employers. It is wonderful that Canadian students and teachers have access to ArcGIS Online for free!

Nuzhat is currently looking for an opportunity in the GTA area to allow her to expand her GIS knowledge. She’s also working on the National Geographic Educator Certification course to gain additional skills in supporting teachers and students through her volunteer work as a GIS Ambassador.

Read about other GIS Ambassadors who are supporting teachers in their area. K-12 teachers can request a GIS Ambassador to visit their class.

About the Author

Angela Alexander is a K-12 Education Resource Developer on the Esri Canada Education and Research team. She has over six years of experience working with educators across Canada. Angela is responsible for producing geographic information system (GIS) and curriculum specific resources, conducting and creating custom workshops for educators and judging and developing the question for the annual GIS Skills Ontario competition in Waterloo, Ontario. Angela has a Bachelor’s degree in Geography and Sociology from the University of Western Ontario and completed the Applied Digital Geography and GIS certificate program at Ryerson University.

Profile Photo of Angela Alexander