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Footsteps: Saundra O' Connell

Wednesday, September 25, 2019   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Sally Palatiello
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Footsteps:  Saundra O'Connell

Please provide a short history of your education and work history

In high school, I was a Math nerd and competed on the Math Team. I studied Architecture at Northern Virginia Community College and Arizona State University. Later, I attended and graduated from the apprenticeship program receiving the Calvin Allen award.

What drew you toward surveying?
I started working for a surveyor while in college. I started drafting and learned how to use a Leroy set. The learning continued from there. 

What do you feel is your greatest achievement in your career?
I can’t think of one greatest achievement. The people I met, the history I learned, the plats I created and the processes I developed are all invaluable achievements to me. 

  Some of my memorable achievements in surveying include the quilt I made for the April 27 and 28, 2007 VAS board meeting. The quilt was signed by all board members who attended and later auctioned off in the silent auction at the convention.

Another one is taking my dog Gizmo to work in the field. Gizmo was a Pembroke Welsh Corgi. Corgi’s were used to herd cattle and keep vermin out of the farm. As such, the front feet are larger than their hind, which make them great for digging. Upon finding Gizmo digging the yard up one day to get a mole, I decided to train him to dig upon command. When he grasped this task quickly, he became part of my field crew. He was extremely smart and hard working. We enjoyed training and working together. He earned his canine good citizen, and as such, could travel with me.    

What surveyors have been your mentors?
The mentors which I learned a lot from are: Jim Cubbage, Dennis Corl, Jack Bartenstein and Burt Sours.

What was special about what you learned from them?
Jim Cubbage was my first mentor. He took the time to explain deed research, field work and what should be on a plat. Jack Bartenstein shared a couple of books on surveying with me, which helped in preparing for the Land Surveyors exams. He also taught me, by his own example, to never stop learning. Burt Sours’ teaching at the apprenticeship program was invaluable and continuously throughout my career. I learned from Dennis Corl about the newer surveying equipment and being involved in the VAS, which is very rewarding. 

Would you recommend a career in surveying to others, and why?
If someone liked math, being outside, solving problems, and having each day bring different things, I would recommend a career in surveying to them. 

What has been the greatest change in surveying you've witnessed in your career?
The biggest change has been the technology and equipment. One should ideally embrace learning in the profession of surveying.