This is the final installment of a five-part series celebrating Women in STEM Month.
TJC has been the starting point for many women who have gone on to successful careers in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Some are just finding their place in the STEM world while others have graduated and are blazing trails of their own. We salute their accomplishments and thank them for setting the pace for future women who aspire to professions in the STEM arena.
Beth Adcock didn’t have a career in mind when she graduated from Chapel Hill High School — but she had goals for a successful future, and Tyler Junior College helped her reach them.
Adcock earned a Top Ten scholarship to attend TJC after high school, and then went about finding her path in an unconventional way.
“Due to being unsure about what I wanted to do, I chose surveying a little backwards,” she said. “I thought of all the industries that I didn’t like or knew I wouldn’t like, and then, through the process of elimination and a suggestion from my now husband, I found the surveying and geomatics program.”
The TJC Surveying and Geomatics program teaches the basic elements of surveying required of a land surveyor and part of the formal training required for a professional license. The program emphasizes boundary surveying and includes history, legal principles of boundary location, evaluating property corners, describing the land, calculating land areas, and using the Texas Coordinate System, computer mapping and geographic information systems. Students learn mapping, route surveying, control surveying, the Global Positioning System (GPS), electronic data collection and get an introduction to 3D laser scanning.
Initially, Adcock made a rookie mistake and signed up for sophomore classes instead of her freshman courses.
“But Professor Patti Williams personally helped me get straightened out and into the right classes,” she said. “It was comforting to know that a teacher with a lot on her plate would take the time to get me sorted out.”
Once on the right track, Adcock flourished in her newfound field of study.
“I liked the variety of the surveying classes,” she said. “We learned new software and applications with new technology, and we were able to apply the fundamentals out in the field. There was a laid-back atmosphere that was a great environment for learning.”
There was also a convenient, efficient way to transfer to UT Tyler and complete her studies.
“As someone who was working full time and paying for her own college, it was a great benefit to get my surveying certificate and basics at TJC and then immediately transfer over to UT Tyler,” she said. “I was able to finish with my bachelor's degree in one year after TJC.”
After graduation, Adcock was hired by Shane Neally at Stanger Surveying in Tyler, where she has worked for 11 years.
She has also spent the last 11 years working as an adjunct professor at TJC, training the next generation of surveying professionals.
“I enjoy teaching the software for the class,” she said. “It also helps to have the connection with the students and be able to say, ‘I have been where you are now and gone through the same coursework you are completing, so keep pushing and achieve your goal.”
She credits her TJC professors Willace Johnson and Patti Williams for setting the tone for the program and making it successful.
“Over the years, having been a student and being an adjunct, I have had the opportunity to see how much work and effort they put into being professors,” Adcock said. “They do so much behind the scenes, so the students are able to have the contact time needed to learn the material and applications. Ms. Willams really takes the women in the program under her wing to encourage them because she knows how important it is to have women in the surveying profession. She has had a great influence on me as a student, a coworker, and as a person.”
Adcock is also proud of her fellow members of the surveying community — many of whom are TJC graduates as well — and how they give back to the program.
“The community of surveyors really supports the TJC program,” she said. “Our local Texas Society of Professional Surveyors Chapter 4 buys all incoming freshmen their surveying textbook. Calculators are bought for the freshmen as well, with money donated by surveyors who want to see surveying students succeed. The TJC program is one of a kind. It’s the professors, the community support and the type of people that the program draws in that make it great.”
For more information on the TJC program, go to TJC.edu/Surveying.