From Seattle Central College to UW Geography with an Emphasis on Social Justice

Submitted by Nell Gross on

Like many of us, geography student Gabe Hammond thinks that winter 2020 "seems like ages ago," when Gabe attended a Transfer Thursday event hosted by the UW Office of Admissions that January. During Transfer Thursday, Gabe attended a session about applying to UW as a transfer student, and then met with a Department of Geography adviser for information about how to prepare for and declare the geography major. Gabe remembers "leaving that transfer fair and feeling very confident on what I needed to do to transfer to the UW, which was my top school... I feel the Transfer Thursday was one of the most important sessions throughout my transfer which gave me a solid foundation of what needed to be done. It also gave me the opportunity to stroll around campus and to walk around Smith Hall." Exactly one year later, Gabe was attending a Geography New Student Orientation and enrolling in UW courses for the very first time. How did Gabe forge a pathway from Seattle Central College (SCC) to University of Washington? Find Gabe's reflections on this and much more below!

On experiences at Seattle Central College: "My experience at SCC seemed to go by very fast. 3 quarters were spent in person, and the last 3 were online due to COVID. My experience at SCC was pleasant. Small class sizes, engaging instructors that were passionate about their course material made a smooth transition from leaving the workforce and going back to school to transferring the UW."

On significant moments & challenges since January 2020: "A significant moment was going through the courses at SCC and planning on what I needed to take to get this particular emphasis. A significant moment during my time at SCC was being awarded a scholarship through the Seattle Colleges Foundational Scholarships program. A challenge would be the COVID pandemic. I feel the only challenging aspect was finishing up my required French classes. It was even harder only being taught online with even less interaction than learning in person. Moving online completely has also created Zoom fatigue. I feel as the pandemic goes on, it continues to be harder to engage with Zoom learning. I miss having the face to face interactions with instructors and my peers."

On the Equity & Social Justice (ESJ) Emphasis in the A.A. at Seattle Central College: "I found out about the Equity & Social Justice Emphasis through the transfer Thursday event through the UW. I had already taken some classes that went towards this, and it was even more appealing as it was linked to transferred credits into the Geography program that I was already interested in. I still had enough time and credits left to complete the emphasis before graduating at SCC...

AME 201 [Diversity & Social Justice, which was accepted for geography elective credit in the major at UW] was a course that required weekly mini-essay assignments, which helped prepare me for my essays that were assigned in my GEOG 272 [Geographies of Environmental Justice] class. Both classes had heavy emphasis surrounding social justice including readings that overlapped in ways between the 2 courses. GEOG 272 tied the social justice in with environmental justice with a geographic and spatial elements. AME 201 as well as the other classes in the Equity and Social Justice helped prepare me with the terminology and meanings that were covered more in depth at UW."

On choosing the geography major and global health minor at UW: "Many reasons I decided on geography. It has always been my favorite subject. Through traveling the world the last 6 years, it has made me even more passionate about learning and understanding other people’s/cultures' relationships with their respective lands. I also love cycling and it has provided me with a unique interaction with local lands and nature. It has made me more aware with urban planning and the importance of bike infrastructure in vastly growing cities plagued with traffic congestion and pollution. I chose global health as a minor because I really enjoyed my medical anthropology class at SCC, and it was a credit that transfers over to the minor. Also, living through a pandemic as also made me more interested in global diseases and how, when, and why they spread. It was pretty cool seeing mapping data being used when COVID-19 was first being tracked, I saw the direct connection between my major and minor, and how my geography degree could be used simultaneously...

Commonalities between the ESJ emphasis and the geography major/global health minor are a look  into the discrepancies/disparities across people and social classes around the world through access to healthcare to inhabiting lands and the fight/protection precious resources."

On what's coming up next at UW: "I am really excited to start my GIS coursework this spring. I am looking forward to in person learning once vaccinations have become available to all. I am also excited to join the Husky Cycling Club as well."