GradImpact: A Veteran Brings the Parks to the People through Research and Outreach

    After spending five years in the Marine Corps, including two deployments in Iraq and working as a mechanic on AV8B II jets, Jessica Phillips was eligible for the G.I. Bill to pay for higher education. She was working as a ranger at Kerr Lake State Recreation Area in North Carolina and at least an hour drive from a major university. Phillips discovered an online program at North Carolina State University and went on to earn her Professional Master’s Degree in parks, recreation, tourism, and sports management.


    Phillips’s love of the outdoors started during childhood. After leaving the Marines, she knew she needed to find a job that would provide variety and wouldn’t require sitting at a desk all day. “In the Marine Corps, I was out on a flight deck and an open squadron, and I learned that I was somebody who didn’t want to work in an office,” she said. “I would have slowly died.” Phillips believed her skill sets would be a good match for a park ranger, and she has taken her work as a ranger to the next level. While at Kerr Lake she developed a regular “Ask a Ranger” column for the local newspaper and programming for the local radio station.


    In 2014, Phillips moved to Umstead State Park, where she has developed an “Ask a Ranger” blog on the website, started podcasts by recording interviews with her colleagues, and created photo exhibits to celebrate the state parks’ centennial. Ultimately, Phillips wants everyone to appreciate all the parks have to offer. “I thought that by bringing the parks to (the people), we might then bring them to the parks.” To learn more about Jessica’s work visit the North Carolina State University website.


    Visit the GradImpact Feature Gallery to learn more about the amazing, innovative research being done by graduate students and alumni across the world.


    Photo Credit: Becky Kirkland, NC State University


    The CGS GRADIMPACT project draws from member examples to tell the larger story of graduate education. Our goal is to demonstrate the importance of graduate education not only to degree holders, but also to the communities where we live and work. Do you have a great story to share about the impact of master’s or doctoral education? Visit our WEBSITE for more information.


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