"It’s a small field that nobody knows about, and there’s so much potential... the skills you learn with GIS can be used with any discipline, and I’m so passionate because I want people to know about it.” Geospatial Information Sciences (GIS) is a growing field, and junior Hilary Sandborn is ready to take it on by storm.

Hilary Sandborn, a junior anthropology and geography major with a minor in sustainability, found her passion for geospatial information science through her sister — a 2013 geography graduate. 

When Sandborn got started at UMD, she did not hesitate to jump right into all the opportunities geographical sciences had to offer. She took up a spot on the Executive Board of the geography club, and found an opportunity as a GIS intern with facilities management at a geography career fair. There, Sandborn has worked with the department to update the campus map, and to construct point layers with GIS software. GIS is the “computer programming part of geography,” she says. 

Heavily interested in community service, Sandborn has invested time into not only her own career, but into her department and College. As a part of her technical writing class, she is working with the Department of Geographical Sciences to see how it can improve, and to give undergraduate students more of a voice in the department. 

“I’m trying to identify some places in the department where students can bring in new ideas,” Sandborn says. She wants undergraduates to have a strong voice in the department. 

Within BSOS, Sandborn works as an Orientation Assistant and as a BSOS Ambassador. She says that helping promote the College is her form of community service.

“Helping out freshmen, people who need help, I like doing that,” she says. “I like talking to people about the opportunities here.”

She can also sometimes use her positions to introduce people to the world of GIS. 

“Anybody who shows an interest in computers, or anything like that, I always try to at least talk to them about the minor, which is pretty easy to complete,” she said, “I want them to do that to start to get them interested.”

So why is this program so special?

“It’s a small field that nobody knows about, and there’s so much potential,” Sandborn says. “The skills you learn in GIS can be used with any discipline, and I’m so passionate because I want people to know about it.”

While her future is uncertain at this point, Sandborn is already looking ahead to how she can use GIS for “everything,” and to be the solution to the world’s greatest challenges. She is looking to complete the five-year BS/MS program for GIS, and has a passion for volunteer and humanitarian work. By combining her interests in environmental anthropology and geospatial information science, she believes she can use her passion to eventually work with an organization like the Red Cross to provide humanitarian aid. 

“GIS is amazing because you can use it for everything and people just have no idea. I want to use that for good.”

Hilary Sandborn's headshot