Alumni Spotlight - Colleen Diessner

Colleen Diessner earned her master’s degree in geography from the University of Missouri in 2012. Currently, she works as a stormwater mapping engineer for King County in the state of Washington. In this role, Diessner maps the county’s stormwater system for asset management data. She also assists with regional mapping coordination efforts by meeting with neighboring jurisdictions and agencies.

After Diessner volunteered with the Peace Corps, she began researching graduate schools in regions she had not traveled to before. She had never been to the Midwest, so she looked into attending MU. After reading instructor profiles and the fields of study offered within the Department of Geography, Diessner decided she would earn her master’s degree at MU.

While attending MU, Diessner found that she was challenged to change the way she interpreted research. She learned that in many instances, perception is not equivalent to inquiry.

“Instead of gleaning for words that supported what I wanted to be true, I looked more critically for validity and nuance,” said Diessner.

Many of Diessner’s instructors positively impacted her time in the geography department, but her advisor Dr. Michael Urban influenced her the most.

“Dr. Urban encouraged me to solve problems independently and do the difficult brain crunching required for credible research,” said Diessner. “I still contact him for advice.”

Looking back at her time in college, Diessner recommends current students expand their knowledge through a variety of experiences available at MU. She believes that students should not just take courses that they think will help them get hired for a specific job.

“Being educated in world affairs, philosophy, environmental science and applied technology will make you a more interesting person,” said Diessner. “That is way more important in a job interview, and in life, than just knowing how to georeference.”

Colleen Diessner