Adjunct Spotlight: Kim Korejko

Adjunct Spotlight: Kim Korejko

Adjunct Faculty Spotlight: Kim Korejko

Ashley YorkBy Kim Korejko

I’m a life-long resident of Camden County, NJ, where I live with my dog and three incredible children in lovely Audubon Borough. I come from a large tight-knit family (I’m one of six kids) - in fact, we all still live within 10 miles of one another!

My interest in geography has been influenced by life experiences and family. My grandfather was a talented illustrator who worked as a draftsman for the NY Ship in Camden and the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard. He was a long-time subscriber to National Geographic and had an extensive collection. Each month we would leaf through the magazine together, carefully unfolding the inserts so we could scrutinize the maps and graphics to learn about the topic featured that month. I was fortunate to inherit his collection with issues dating back to 1962, which I continue to contribute to.

My other grandfather was a mechanic for Conrail in Philadelphia and my father was an electrician for Amtrak, which sparked my love for trains and their history in the US. In turn, this made me curious about how the proliferation of automobiles shaped the man-made environment in the US and how it has negatively impacted populations who can’t afford cars. Trains and other alternative transportation options serve as critical lifelines in getting people access to basic needs and jobs.

When I graduated high school, like so many people, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to major in. I attended Rutgers New Brunswick for two years but was overwhelmed by the size of the school and the number of majors they offered. I was interested in everything and had a difficult time settling on one program - I just couldn’t seem to find myself there.

I decided I wanted to attend a school that had a more intimate feel and was close to home and discovered Rowan University in the late 90’s. Leafing through the course catalog, I read the course descriptions in the Geography & Anthropology program - every class sounded incredibly interesting. I couldn’t believe that cartographers still existed…and what the heck is this Geographic Information System thing about?! This is when I had the “ah-ha” moment that I was a geographer at heart. I enrolled in three geography classes my first semester and graduated summa cum laude from Rowan’s Geography and Anthropology program a few years later.

I feel lucky to have gone through Rowan’s geography program when I did (1999-2001). It was a pivotal time for GIS, when advances in computing coupled with the proliferation of Esri’s software across the globe was bringing Geography to the forefront. At Rowan, I had the opportunity to learn the fundamentals of cartography and spatial analyses using both traditional methods AND through cutting edge spatial software programs.

I was fortunate enough to take my first cartography course with Chet Zimolzak where we used ink pens varying in line thickness to make thematic maps on paper. (I still have my graded map of Vermont from that class, complete with a coffee ring left on there by Professor Zimolzak!). These tactile skills then transferred to the GIS/”computer cartography” classes I took with Dr. Dick Scott. Dr. Scott’s enthusiasm for GIS was contagious and I wanted to learn everything I could about spatial analyses using GIS (ArcView 3.2 at that time) and cartography. In the Remote Sensing class I took with Dr. Lemaire, we used a stereoscope to examine stereoscopic photographs of glacial fields left behind by glaciers in Alaska. Technology is a wonderful thing, but there’s something to be said about developing fundamental mapping skills mapping using hands-on techniques.

A couple weeks after I graduated from Rowan, I started an internship with Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission’s (DVRPC) GIS department. (DVRPC is the federally designated Metropolitan Planning Organization for the Greater Philadelphia region including.) Soon after, I was hired as a full-time GIS Analyst and worked in the GIS department until 2016 where I specialized in cartography and data management. A highlight from that time was when my work for DVRPC’s Greater Philadelphia Food System study was published in Volume 26 of Esri’s Map Book. I’m now DVRPC’s Manager of the Office of Data Coordination, where I’m responsible for establishing and implementing planning data policies, standards, organization, and innovation of data at the enterprise level. I’m also involved in researching and improving the way DVRPC discovers and shares planning data between departments, member agencies, and the public.

Since 2015, I have been very fortunate to return to Rowan’s Geography, Planning, and Sustainability program where I’ve been teaching Introduction to Mapping and GIS (IMGIS) as an adjunct. I absolutely love teaching in my old stomping grounds in the classrooms of Robinson Hall. My favorite part of each semester is when my students work on their final projects. So many “lightbulb moments'' happen when students are able to apply the fundamentals of GIS that we learned throughout the semester to a topic that’s of interest to them. It’s extremely rewarding. It means a lot to me to be able to continue to advance Rowan’s GIS program and I continue to look forward to meeting new students!