Francis Tarasiewicz ’19 first visited the Lyndon campus for an admissions office Instant Decision Day, an event where prospective students get an admission decision before they leave campus. Francis and the admissions representative reached the same conclusion: This was the place for him.
The atmospheric sciences student remembers the weather that day — a wintry mix, and it started sleeting. He was at the campus weather center, and all the students there went outside to the observation deck to watch the sleet. “I knew this was the environment I was meant to be in,” he said.
The Lyndon campus is in the perfect area to observe the weather for Francis. “I fell in love with the location,” he said, “surrounded by forests and mountains. You see a lot of weather happen, especially in interactions with the terrain up here.”
Small Classes and Individual Attention from Faculty
It isn’t only the natural environment that has been a good fit for Francis. The small classes and ability to build relationships with faculty also have been valuable. “The environment here has nurtured the greatest parts of my academic self and encouraged me … I’ve never been afraid to ask for help,” he said. In looking at colleges, “I felt as though I could use some one-on-one guidance and advice, more hands-on involvement by faculty.”
Real-World Experience is His Best Teacher
Francis, of South Windsor, Connecticut, has taken advantage of many hands-on opportunities, sometimes working with faculty, who have strong connections in the industry. Through internships and paid employment, he has gained experience that will help him stand out in the workplace.
In an unusual opportunity for college students, Francis and other students prepared forecasts on campus for a Mount Everest expedition one spring, which he said is “the most intense forecasting I’ve ever had to do. They were in a very challenging environment, and they could die at any moment if the forecasts went poorly. … It really taught me that what I’m doing matters.”
Gaining Technical Abilities, Practicing the Art of Forecasting
During winter, Francis has been a forecaster for the Vermont Agency of Transportation. In addition to technical skills — forecasting, coding, using GIS software, managing data — he has built, “It has helped me with the art of communicating weather, taking scientific information and making a value-added forecast,” he said.
Francis also had an internship writing blogs for SnoCountry, which provides weather forecasts for ski resorts. In summer internships, he has researched power outage forecasting for atmospheric sciences department chair Jay Shafer.
“In every way, I’m building my resume,” said Francis, who would like to work in private industry and then attend graduate school. “I’m getting a robust applied way of learning … I’m developing both personally and professionally.”
NVU’s Nationally Known Program Produces Leaders in the Field
The campus offers student-run projects and clubs for atmospheric sciences and climate change science students that provide opportunities to build leadership, public speaking, and communication skills. Its chapter of the American Meteorological Society, of which Francis has been president, organizes events, including the annual Northeastern Storm Conference, which draws hundreds of faculty, students, and professionals in the meteorology field.