Cartography Award Winners PT 2: Aly DeGraff

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Each year the National Geographic Society sponsors a number of cartography awards to support up-and-coming student map makers. Last week, we met Adam Thom, winner of the Arthur Robinson Award. This week, we’ll meet Aly DeGraff, who won the National Geographic Award in Mapping with Treasure Island, a map of Colombia’s Isla de Providencia, a.k.a. Old Providence Island. Her prize: $900 and a National Geographic Atlas. Aly shared her map with us, as well as her thoughts on cartography, design, and “ground-truthing.”
First, can you give us some information about yourself?
What was your undergraduate major?
Geography with minors in Latin American History and Portuguese
Where are you from?
East Middlebury, VT
Name one or more dream jobs: 
Who is your favorite geographer, map maker, or adventurer?
Bernard Nietschmann, a Latin Americanist Cultural Geographer whose work focused on empowering native peoples to fight to protect their rights to land and the environment, and on the use of traditional knowledge in marine conservation (he received five grants from National Geographic for his work).
What is your favorite thing about cartography?
I love making visually appealing and yet extremely practical products that help the audience to approach the landscape through a new and different mindset.
Name an important skill that you learned before college: 
The most important skill I learned before college was basic graphic design from my mom. I understood early on the importance of presentation in my work and I cannot thank her enough for that!
Now then, about your map…
What class was it for?
I turned the final work in for my Spatial Visualization (Cartography) class, but I collected all the field data during an independent mapping project over Middlebury College’s January-Term
What inspired you to do this project?
I decided to embark on creating a map of Old Providence, Colombia on my second trip to the tiny Caribbean island where my best friend spent his childhood.

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Intern Introduction – Cedar Attanasio

What’s up, Geography Education Blogosphere? My name is Cedar Attanasio, and I’m psyched to be interning here at the National Geographic, blogging about my favorite subject: geography. You and I will be swapping stories, links, information, analysis and opinions for the next few months, so I figured I’d give you all some idea of who I am and where I’m coming from. 
I grew up around northern New Mexico between Santa Fe, Ojo Sarco and Las Vegas. I also spent most of my childhood off the grid, which I talk more about in this audio profile
Like most American kids I didn’t do any geography in school after 4th grade. That all changed in my senior year, when I started I.B. geography at the Li Po Chun United World College of Hong Kong. Geography was my favorite course, not only because of the content but also the context: out of 20 kids in the class, around 15 were from different countries, and I was the only American. 
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Fast forward to the present day where I am a super senior (one semester left) at Middlebury College, pursuing a double major in Geography and Spanish. While I did enjoy my time tromping around Asia, my regional focuses in college have been Latin America, West Asia, North Africa, and Iberia.
Living in a border state and having many immigrants in my immediate family, transnationalism, migration, and labor issues are very close to my heart. With the ACLU in New Mexico and the Alianza Latina y Caribeña club at Middlebury I’ve channeled that passion into activism, as well as various volunteer projects working with Latino/Hispanic/Latin migrants. Other academic topics on my radar include Medieval Islamic history and colonialism in the Americas (I’m interested in how these intersect), as well as Spanish translation and the history of cartography. 
Outside of the classroom, I write for the news section of my college newspaper and edit the features section. I also publish non-fiction work on my own blog, TheCedarBoardOutside of computers, I love to travel, hike (no GPS!), scuba dive, and read. I’m also a bit of a movie buff, and like to act and work my favorite filmmakers in my free time. 

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