SIUE Geography Student honored by Lincoln Academy for academic, extracurricular excellence

Josh Pritsolas didn’t follow the traditional path to achieve his academic goals. But he said that didn’t make his path to success any less rewarding.

SIUE senior Joshua Pritsolas recently was honored by the Lincoln Academy in Springfield for his academic achievements. Pritsolas, who will graduate this month with a 4.0 GPA will attend grad school at SIUE in the spring. (Photo courtesy of Joshua Pritsolas)

The Columbus, Ohio native spent 12 years active duty in the Army before coming to SIUE in 2012 to complete his college degree.

On Nov. 7, Pritsolas was honored by the Lincoln Academy of Illinois as an elite student for his academic and extracurricular accomplishments. Pritsolas, who will graduate with a degree in Geography this month also received a medallion, certificate of achievement and $1,000 academic grant for his essay on core values embodied by President Lincoln including integrity. Pritsolas will attend graduate school at SIUE in the spring and will pursue a Master’s in Geography.

“I was humbled by (the award). I try to do better than my expectations for myself and to get recognized by my faculty and the university it was humbling. It was very good,” Pritsolas said.

The senior credits his ability to focus and excel academically with his experiences in the Army. As a freshman at Ohio State University more than 15 years ago, Pritsolas said he lacked focus and discipline. Pritsolas enlisted in the Army and later deployed on two tours to Iraq and one to Kosovo as a M1A1 Abrams tank crewman. Pritsolas said his time in the military had its highs and lows and presented considerable challenges transitioning to civilian life. Some challenges, he declined to speak about. But he quickly found a place for himself on SIUE’s campus.

“It’s challenging. Every integration after being in the military have been kind of a struggle,” Pritsolas said. “Generally it’s coming back finding something that I’m going at that I fit in with has been instrumental in helping me overcome those challenges.”

Pritsolas spent three years as vice president of the SIUE Geography club, while making the Dean’s list each semester with a 4.0 GPA. He worked as a research assistant for SIUE professor Randall Pearson, working with SIUE deans to create campus maps. Pritsolas also worked with local companies on data analysis and data management. The 36-year-old Glen Carbon resident also volunteered at Edwardsville High School where he taught advanced placement geography students about Geographic Information Systems.

“The first time I went to college I just wasn’t focused enough to care about school,” said Pritsolas. “The military gave me life experience, leadership skills, technical skills, — just critical skills. So when I got out of the Army I was more ready to go back to school.”

Pritsolas credits Dr. Pearson with sparking his interest in Geography during a freshman earth science course.  For Pritsolas senior project, he calibrated aerial imagery of an Iowa farm to track plant health.

“It’s more or less getting mathematical relationships between different visibility or non-visible bands of light and then associating those ratios to plant health,” Pritsolas said.

Pritsolas said he is considering pursuing a PhD but also is considering applying for work as a GIS information systems analyst or for a position in remote sensing.

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