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Graduate spotlight: Homer maps out career path in map making

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Tracy Homer’s passion for learning how things work helped her discover a career in geosciences.

When most people think of rocks, they probably don’t get very excited. But that’s not the case for Tracy Homer, who will graduate from Pellissippi State this month. Tracy, a self-proclaimed science nerd, is so passionate about geology, she decided to make it into a career. 

Tracy is enrolled in Pellissippi State’s Tennessee Transfer Pathway for Geosciences, which means she is graduating with an associate degree that’s designed to transfer directly to a four-year college or university in Tennessee. 

After she graduates from Pellissippi State, Tracy will transfer to the University of Tennessee to study Geographic Information Science and Technology, which combines data management, data science, data visualization and geography. 

“I want to do something with map making, but also collecting data from maps that already exist and using it for research or historical purposes,” says Tracy. “I think maps are art. I think they’re beautiful, I love looking at them and all the little details.” 

After she graduated high school, Tracy didn’t immediately go to college – a decision she used to struggle with.  

“I had feelings about why I didn’t pursue a college degree right after high school,” shares Tracy, “but I’ve come to terms with that. I’m ready to move forward, and now I’m going to college just because I want to. This is just for me. I want to use my degree for something that helps people or helps the Earth in some way. It’s a chance to do something meaningful.”  

Tracy started her college journey in the fall of 2020, during the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, and found the asynchronous class format fit her lifestyle and work schedule.  

“I think the pandemic had a bit to do with my decision to go back to college,” shares Tracy. “I took stock of what I was doing and where I wanted to go in the future. There was a lot of time for thinking!” 

While she’s been busy studying geology in school, Tracy has spent her time outside the classroom getting involved in the community. Tracy is on the board of directors for Knox Makers, a hobby space for engineers, artists, hobbyists, innovators, educators and entrepreneurs.  

“Growing up, I was always interested in this stuff but none of my friends really cared,” recalls Tracy. “So I go to this place [Knox Makers] and there are all these people making cool things and they have crazy ideas, and then we actually do it!” 

Whether it’s studying rock formations, analyzing data from a map or working in a metal shop, Tracy is passionate about learning how things work.  

“I find it so fascinating how the world works and how it gets put together,” says Tracy. “I really like this college thing!”