Article Written by Brian Moos.
The St. Cloud State meteorology department is one of the best in the nation for preparing students for the challenging world of weather. As the only meteorology program of its kind in the state of Minn. there is major draw to the Granite City to pursue such a career. SCSU has produced notable alumni working at high ranks in the National Weather Service (NWS). One distinction of the program is being up to the NWS standard and its requirements; however, it’s not just the public sector. There are many opportunities in fields like broadcast forecasting or other private sector forecasting.
Meteorology has been and still is one of the top majors at St. Cloud State University.
“I was born and raised in Minn. and just assumed I’d have to go to Madison or North Dakota. When I started my college research, I found out they had a new meteorology program at St. Cloud State,” said Michelle Mead, a St. Cloud State alumna who is the Meteorologist in Charge at the National Weather Service in Sacramento, Calif.
Two St. Cloud State alumni, Michelle Mead and Paul Iniguez, now work for the National Weather Service.
The benefits of studying at a smaller university also was a draw.
“I could have a little more one on one with the professors, so it just worked out that I went to St. Cloud, and it was perfect,” Mead said.
As for career preparation, Mead is currently working for the NWS. She remembered SCSU being upfront about NWS standards, which pays off in the long run.
“When I graduated, there were 14 of us, and I believe more than ten of us are in the weather service,” Mead said through chuckles.
Paul Iniguez, Science and Operations Officer at NWS in Phoenix Ariz., touched on many similar details to Mead when it came to appeals of coming to St. Cloud State. Iniguez decided on SCSU versus two bigger programs in Okla. and Wis. “It felt comfortable, it felt right, so that was the direction I went,” said Iniguez. Like Mead, Iniguez really liked the smaller school feel and how close classmates were because of it. In reference to larger programs, Iniguez said, “I don’t think I would’ve gotten as good of an experience as I got at St. Cloud. You have that intimacy with it and also getting to know the professors a lot more too. I’m glad I went that way.”
In terms of what students of the modern meteorology world should focus on, both Mead and Iniguez had the same answer: communication. “You can have a really good forecast, but if you don’t communicate it well, it’s kind of worthless,” said Iniguez. Mead pointed out that, “We throw a lot of numbers and words out there that nobody knows what it means. For folks coming out of school, I would take some kind of graphics course and have clear communication skills. When you get here the first thing we [National Weather Service] are going to teach you is how you make a social media graphic. We need to make sure [that] we are communicating clearly the message we are trying to send.”
The meteorology program at St. Cloud State University continues to be one of the best in the nation. Graduating students from SCSU touch all sectors of meteorology, including the National Weather Service. Michelle Mead and Paul Iniguez have carved out long, successful careers with their degrees. Current Huskies should heed their advice, along with knowing that SCSU meteorology has them on the right path.