Jessica Gray sounds like a sharp student. After graduating from high school, she attended college and graduated as valedictorian with an associate degree in Computer Drafting and Design. Among her other academic achievements are induction into the National Technical Honor Society and Alpha Beta Kappa and a grade point average of 4.0. She's leveraged all of that into a full-time position as a GIS/CAD Technician with Jacksonville Electric Authority in Florida.
The rest of the story, as Paul Harvey, would say, goes like this. Gray graduated from Juneau-Douglas High School in Juneau Alaska. Her parents live in Yakutat (pop 662, but claimed to be the largest city by area in the U.S. at about six times the size of Rhode Island) about 100 miles from Juneau. Gray is a shareholder of Sealaska, Goldbelt and Shee-Atika, all native corporations. and a member of Tlingit and Haida Tribes of Alaska and Sitka Tribes of Alaska. From what I understand, being a shareholder of several corporations is pretty normal for native Alaskans.
Here's the interesting part, from the geoeducation perspective. Gray left Alaska for Jacksonville, FL where she earned her degree at ITT Technical Institute. ITT Technical Institute, which advertises heavily here in Boston, is a for-profit institution with national, rather than the more prestigious regional accreditation (source: Wikipedia, the school website does not seem to make its accreditation readily findable). The school offers many degrees but has a large portfolio in technology and IT. Her program at the Jacksonville Campus includes just one course that I could find that touches on GIS and mapping: 3D Civil Drafting. Other degree programs at other campuses have a course titled Civil Drafting and Introduction to GIS.
I point out all of this out to wish Gray the best in her new job and to highlight that while efforts in the U.S. to offer GIS and geospatial training at public institutions and in particular at community colleges grow, so do efforts at private for profit schools.
- Juneau Empire