Patty Mims shares insights about what she has been doing since earning a master’s degree in geography, her fondest CNRE memory, the most amazing thing she learned in the college, the professor who inspired her, and what advice she would give to her undergraduate self.

College of Natural Resources and Environment: What have you been doing since you graduated?

Patty Mims: Since I graduated from Virginia Tech, I’ve been doing what I love and working in the GIS community. I’ve spent the last 20 years at Esri, focusing on work in the federal government space that supports the geospatial intelligence mission and helps the community advance their use of GIS technology. I’ve been exposed to so many people, new ideas, and new technology.  Every day has provided an opportunity to learn, and I love that.

CNRE: What is your fondest memory?

Mims: My fondest memory from my Virginia Tech days was when we went camping. The entire Department of Geography—professors and graduate students—went on a camping trip the very first weekend I arrived in Blacksburg. I was unprepared to camp, but everyone helped me out with gear, and it ended up being a great bonding experience with lots of geomorphology and hikes.

CNRE: What is the most amazing thing that you did or learned?

Mims: The most amazing thing that I did was my thesis. It was a great learning experience for really how to build out a project. I spent some time in the field putting real-world examples with the data. I think it’s important to look beyond the data to ensure that you are understanding the problem holistically. I also really appreciated the feedback from my advising board and learned how working with others can help improve your research/project.

CNRE: What professors inspired you?

Mims: The geography professor who inspired me the most was Larry Grossman. Larry was my advisor and always pushed me to do more and advance the research of the discipline of rural/urban development.

CNRE: If you could go back in time, what’s the one thing you would tell your undergraduate self?

Mims: Don’t be afraid to try new things or new technology. It’s OK to fail in the learning process and learn from those failures. There isn’t always a path for how things should be done because someone always has to be the first to do it. Don’t be afraid to be the first.