December 19, 2003

Student earns National Geographic internship

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- As a youngster, Justin M. Beasley enjoyed learning about the world through National Geographic magazine.

Next fall, the Southern Illinois University Carbondale senior gets an opportunity to help others learn as an intern with the National Geographic Society in Washington, D.C.

"I'm very excited," said Beasley, who is from Channahonand is majoring in geography and geology. "I think it will be a great opportunity to explore the professional world in the realm of geography and geology."

"A map is a geography visual," said Beasley. "A map is a story of 1,000 words and you can get a lot of information out of it."

There were more than 100 applications this year for the highly competitive program, which pays $325 per week and covers travel expenses. One of 32 geography and cartography students picked for the 2004 internship program, Beasley will spend the fall semester working on page maps for the magazine and larger insert maps.

Now in its 21st year, the intern program offers "qualified students a professional learning experience through participation in various projects aimed at the diffusion of geographic knowledge," said program director Robert E. Dulli.

The interns work in 10 different divisions, including books, magazines, National Geographic Television and Film, international editions and The program is "well-respected and established within the geographic community," Dulli said.

Beasley will contribute like everyone else on the staff, Dulli said, noting, "We pretty well put them right in the fire."

We highly value the interns here at the society," said Dulli. "We have hired many in the past, and many have stayed on under contract for various periods of time."

Interns interact with people involved in many aspects of the Society's business, including explorers, photographers and writers.

Steven P. Esling, chairman of SIUC's geology department, said Beasley's selection could open the door for other students to participate in the program.

"To have the National Geographic Society notice SIUC and notice that we have quality students is important," Esling said. Beasley is a "remarkable young man, and he is really going to impress them."

Along with being a superior student, Beasley is outgoing, friendly and even-tempered, according to Esling. Beasley also is a supplemental instructor for the department's large introductory course for non-majors. Those instructors in Geology 101 help freshmen and sophomores adjust their study habits so they can succeed in a course.

In his recommendation letter, Esling wrote that Beasley offers evening study sessions in which he points out important topics from recent lectures. The classes are well attended.

"When Justin speaks to the class, his love of the subject is very apparent," Esling wrote. "That is a rare quality more teachers should have."

Beasley also is tutoring a student in one of the more difficult geology courses in the University's Achieve Program, which helps students with learning disabilities transition into college.

Beasley said he enjoys helping other students and tries to make classes interesting. He gives a lot of credit to his parents, Irene and the late Jeffrey Beasley. His family is very supportive, said Beasley, adding that his father, who passed away earlier this year, "supported me in whatever I wanted to do and I really looked up to him."

After completing his internship, Beasley plans to continue studying geology in graduate school.