Growing up, Jay Knox wanted to be a professional soccer player or a zoologist, but he also liked traveling and maps. In high school, he discovered an interest in geography and decided he wanted to study it in college.
When he started looking for a college, Knox knew he could expect greater interaction with other students and his professors in smaller classes, and he found the right fit at Wittenberg.
"Witt feels like home," Knox said. "During my years here, I have made a lot of friends and shared awesome experiences. I've also had the opportunity to take what I learned in the classroom and apply it to the real world."
He continued to play soccer with the Tigers, and he was recognized his junior year for athletic and academic accomplishments with a second-team award CoSIDA/ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America College Division All-District IV honors.
He served as president of Gamma Theta Upsilon, the geography honor society, and he was inducted into Chi Alpha Sigma, the student-athlete honorary. He was responsible for pitching the idea of a Geography Club to Student Senate and became the founding president of the organization.
Knox gained on-the-job experience and new interpersonal skills while fulfilling his community service requirement with Catholic Social Services and his job as a student manager at the Health, Physical Education and Recreation Center. He also worked as a faculty aid to Professor of Geography Olga Medvedkov.
"My work with Dr. Medvedkov gave me the opportunity to work on real-world projects for the city of Springfield," Knox said. "We worked on projects dealing with at-risk children, foreclosure issues and ways to bring jobs to Springfield."
It was also through his work with Medvedkov that Knox undertook an independent study in the summer of 2008 using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology to analyze the effectiveness of existing local after-school programs for two geography majors interning with Next Edge through Wittenberg's Center for Civic & Urban Engagement.
"I assisted Matt McDonald ('09) and Taylor Hafley ('10) with research and a presentation of their findings to a panel of Springfield officials," he said.
With his interests in geography, geology, GIS mapping, urban planning, government and private transportation issues, Knox knew he wanted to go on to grad school to continue his work in the field.
"It was at Witt that I first discovered GIS technology," Knox said. GIS technology allows students to analyze complex data over space and time, and has traditionally been used in field-oriented disciplines such as biology, environmental studies, geography and geology.
Now a graduate student in geography at The Ohio State University, Knox works 20 hours a week as a GIS intern with the Ohio Army National Guard. He also worked there full-time over summer, even while taking graduate classes.
"I have gained more confidence than I would have thought possible," he said. "I love observing people and working to understand the various cultures."
- Written by Phyllis Eberts
- Photo by Erin Pence