Amelia Owre earns the Chapin Outstanding Master’s Thesis Award at UIS

Nancy Chapin, Amelia Owre, Dr Harry Berman
Above: Nancy Chapin, Amelia Owre, Dr. Harry Berman; Nancy Chapin and Dr. Berman are donors to the Chapin Outstanding Master’s Thesis Award at UIS

Amelia Owre, a former online student from California, graduated from UIS in May 2015 with a master’s degree in environmental sciences. On February 7, 2016, she received the prestigious Chapin Outstanding Master’s Thesis Award. Her thesis was entitled “The Impact of Sea Level Rise on Carbon Storage and Sequestration in the Tijuana River National Estuarine Research Reserve.” Dr. Shipeng Sun was her committee chair.

Below, in her own words, she tells her story:

Originally from Dallas, Texas, I attended the US Naval Academy and majored in Oceanography with an emphasis on meteorology and climate science.

Following graduation, I became a Naval helicopter pilot and flew three different variants of the H-60 Seahawk.

After my first overseas deployment, I began searching for graduate programs that both related to my bachelor’s degree and would be flexible enough to fit with my military schedule. When I found the online Environmental Sciences program at UIS, I knew it would be a great fit.

My Online Master’s Degree at UIS

I have appreciated the flexibility of the online classes at UIS. The program gave me the opportunity to obtain a degree in a discipline that was unavailable at any local colleges or universities. I was also able to juggle work and family while getting my degree, which would have been much more difficult if my classes had to be attended in person.

My greatest challenge was trying to dial in on a topic for my research. If I had been an on-campus student, I could have had conversations with fellow classmates and professors that would have helped me discover and refine an interesting topic. Online, my process for coming up with a topic had to be a little more focused.

I started volunteering at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) research reserve in my area and developing relationships with the scientists and research coordinator there. Through those relationships, I was able to have the conversations that helped me develop my topic. These informal advisors made the process much easier for me.

I would readily recommend UIS online because it is a true academic program. The online curriculum mirrored what was offered on campus, and that was a huge draw for me. The same professors taught both in-person and online, and they seemed very invested in their online sections. Overall, I had a great experience during my time at UIS as an online student.

My Life Now

I am now out of the military and have taken a slightly different professional route. During my last few years on active duty, I had been a flight instructor for unmanned aircraft systems, or drones. Now I work for a drone training company as their Director of Training, building curriculum to teach new drone pilots how to fly.

Although I am not working directly with the environmental field, in my current job I have been able to leverage many of the things I learned during my master’s program. We are presently building classes that cover topics like aerial mapping, multispectral imaging and LiDAR, all of which I was introduced to at UIS.