March 01, 2022
Glenn Roedel '18
“I’m named after him. That’s why my name’s Glenn,” says Glenn Roedel ’18 of her late grandfather, a Christmas tree farmer, talented painter, and her rock for as long as she can remember.
“He was Glenn Michael and I’m Glenn Michaela,” Roedel says. “He opened my eyes to a lot of different things.”
Maybe he is the reason that Roedel is interested in such a range of topics, from agriculture and aviation to old maps and colorful data. Roedel loves to ask questions and wastes no time finding answers.
Awestruck by Maps
She recalls the instant fascination she felt during her first meeting with the chairperson of KU’s Department of Geography, Dr. Richard Courtney. During an admissions open house, she was in awe over the larger-than-life maps on display.
“I asked him, ‘Do students make those maps? How does it work?’ And he said, ‘Yeah, you can make these maps,’” Roedel says. “Then he gave me a sheet of paper that listed the things that geographers could do. Basically, anything from fashion design, to national parks, to aviation, and everything in between – that is what geographers can do!”
Geography complemented Roedel’s exploratory spirit and she embarked on an ambitious goal – earning a bachelor’s degree in three years and a master’s degree shortly thereafter.
“People would ask me, ‘Why are you rushing through life?’ Because I have things I want to do!” With the support of the department’s professors, including Courtney, Dr. Moira Conway and Dr. Mario Cardozo, Roedel did exactly what she wanted to do. She fast-tracked her Kutztown graduation date and then earned a master’s degree in city/urban, community and regional planning from Temple University in 2020.
Eyes on the Sky
Roedel was especially interested in a transportation geography course at KU.
“I started finding freight shipping pretty fascinating. Like, how do you get an orange from one place to another and it’s ready for you to eat by the time you get it? If you really think about all the details that go into it from start to finish, it’s amazing!”
Then, on the tails of a cartography research project at KU that involved planning a Midwest location for an airport, Roedel remembers thinking, “Oh, I think I really want to go into aviation!”
From that point, Roedel used her interest in mapping and data to chart a career path involving aviation. To support her goal of graduate school, Cardozo involved Roedel in a research project regarding murals and their relationship to Philadelphia neighborhoods. The project brought Roedel before the American Association of Geographers, and Cardozo and Roedel are taking steps to publish their research.
Helping Passengers and Airports
Today, Roedel is a geographic information systems analyst for Arora Engineers Inc., a firm focused on infrastructure solutions for multiple sectors, including aviation, specifically Philadelphia International Airport.
“Things are always constantly changing to better serve the passengers,” Roedel says. “That’s why we (analysts) are needed there. We have the power to look at things visually.”
Roedel supports her firm’s project managers by collecting, creating, managing and modifying data to make sure they have what they need to serve the firm’s clients. She now gets to create maps like the ones she gushed over when she first set foot on Kutztown’s campus.
“I love my job. I can show people things in a different way,” Roedel says. “I love knowing that I’m helping passengers at the airport, and I also love knowing I’m helping the airport with the decisions it has to make.”
Not surprisingly, Roedel still has big goals in mind. She hopes to teach within the next 15 years and eventually own a mapping business. She also hopes to accomplish a personal project that is close to her roots – the family tree farm.
“I love that tree farm with all my heart,” Roedel says. “I’m going to go and map all the trees up there.”
BY MEGAN SCIARRINO
This article appeared in the Fall 2021 Tower Magazine