Featured Geographer

Spencer Van Schaack

About Spencer

Shaack1Hello! I am Spencer Van Schaack and I am a senior Geography major, with a minor in Native American studies at Syracuse University. I am from Tuxedo, NY but now call Jackson, WY home. I have also played lacrosse for Syracuse for 4 years. As I am sure many geographers at SU would agree, I did not know one could major in geography before I came to Syracuse. As an incoming freshman I had no idea of what I wanted to study but I did have an interest in environmental issues, other people of the world, and the outdoors. After my first few geography classes I was hooked.

Initially what attracted me to geography was a class in physical geography. I learned not only about the different systems of the earth and how they interact with one another, but also how humans interact with the natural world. Geography has allowed me to examine these relationships closely and learn a great deal from them.         

As I continued my education I realized that unlike some fields of study, things I learned applied directly to my life outside of academics. Issues such as environmental justice, sustainability, and GISciences are all around us. Professors in the geography department do an excellent job of taking what seem like abstract ideas that may not affect us and show them at a local scale.       

Geography gives me so many ideas of what I want to do after school that it is almost frustrating. Geography is a very broad field on the surface but once you delve into the discipline you can become very focused on any number of things. I have realized that conservation is what I want to do after school. Through GIS classes and classes in environmental issues coupled with my love for the outdoors, it only makes sense that conservation is where I am headed. As for a concrete plan for life after SU…still formulating, but I am currently in the process of finding an internship or job in conservation for after I graduate.