Finding an ISAT family

Andi Grossenbaugh

SUMMARY: Andria Grossenbaugh ('17) credits her major with fostering a transformative college experience.

By: Brett Seekford

As the realization came during graduation that her college career was coming to an end, Andria “Andi” Grossenbaugh knew she needed one more family photo—just not with the family one would expect. Enduring strong showers that left her gown soaked, she nevertheless corralled several of her fellow graduates to savor the moment, later posting the memory to Facebook with an accompanying note of appreciation: “Thank you JMU Integrated Science and Technology (ISAT) for giving me the best four years of my life, and life-long friends that turned into my family.”

While she credits her major with fostering a transformative college experience, Grossenbaugh initially came to JMU with little knowledge about the ISAT program. She knew she wanted to study environmental issues but came to learn the university did not have a major specifically devoted to environmental science. After hearing more about the program during JMU’s CHOICES open house, she chose ISAT as her field of study.

Upon arriving in Harrisonburg in fall 2013, she began taking several science classes while also finding her own niche within the department. Along with exposure to many approaches to scientific study, she found herself drawn to technology. With the help of her advisor, Paul Henriksen, she began exploring methods for integrating an Information/Knowledge Management concentration into her declared Environment focus while also double-minoring in Public Policy and Administration and Environmental Information Systems. 

Once she finalized her concentration, Grossenbaugh turned her attention to the capstone project that served as a culmination of her undergraduate coursework. Through a partnership with Rockingham County, she ultimately created a geographic information system database for the county that pinpointed storm water runoff treatment facilities in the area, an endeavor that allowed for an exploration of her interests in technological innovation and environmentalism. Since its completion, Grossenbaugh received JMU’s Geospatial Technology Steering Committee Runner Up Award for the Best Multi-Semester Project for 2016-2017.

Professor Robert Brent, who she consulted as a capstone advisor, believes the project aligned with Grossenbaugh’s passions. He said, “This project combined Andi’s interests in public policy and environmental information systems. It was a perfect fit for Andi, and she completed it with excellence and professionalism. I think that the experience she gained from her ISAT capstone project will serve her well going forward.”

The ISAT program’s social climate, coupled with its academic culture, also made for long-lasting friendships and connections. Grossenbaugh came to identify with the program due to its emphasis on teamwork and small classes, which helped her find a home in the major. She describes an atmosphere defined by collegiality and understanding, one where every ISAT major comes to know every other student in the program. There is even a table on the third floor of the ISAT building that has become informally known as the “ISAT table” where passersby often find ISAT students sitting around, catching up, and collaborating.

“Over the course of four years, a sense of family develops,” Grossenbaugh said. “Everyone is friendly and happy to talk about anything. Going forward, I know I can turn to anyone in ISAT – alums or faculty – for help or advice.”

She already has a job lined up. Last spring, after attending a career fair and talking to a representative from Deloitte, she applied and was hired as a technology consultant to begin the following year. She starts her new job in July and anticipates the new experiences and skills she will undoubtedly gain. Her long-term goals include entering the energy sector more primarily with her technology focus being more secondary, similar to the structure of her major concentration.

To her surprise, Grossenbaugh has been contacted since her hiring by several ISAT alumni working with Deloitte who offered to field any questions she may have as she makes this life change. With the connections already established during her time at JMU, it seems her ISAT family will continue to grow.

Published: Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Last Updated: Monday, January 29, 2018

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