Work Scholars

Angel Barnett - Flow of Change

September 13, 2016

LEWISTON, Idaho - Work Scholar Angel Barnett is making her community’s commute a little easier and roads a little safer. Barnett, a junior, works for the Lewis-Clark Valley Metropolitan Planning Organization (LCVMPO) and gathers information on 186 intersections to help improve traffic flow in the Lewiston area.

When Barnett began working with the LCVMPO, they were counting cars at intersections by hand. This meant a member of the LCVMPO team had to physically sit at an intersection and track which direction cars turned. Cars moved in as many as four lanes and could turn in multiple directions. This chaos made it very difficult to accurately count cars. Counting by hand quickly became impractical as Barnett’s supervisor, Professor Jenni Light reports, “there were upwards of 1,620 cars in an hour,” or roughly a car every two seconds passing through some intersections.

Barnett and Light looked for a solution. The pair decided that filming intersections would not only make data collecting more accurate, but also make data gathering easier.

Barnett Measuring Traffic Flow

"My job is fulfilling... I’m appreciated...
I’m making a difference."

Because of her problem solving skills and solution focused ingenuity, Barnett has earned high praise and respect from her mentor, Professor Light. “When I was gone this spring [2016],” Light says, “Angel took over all the administration, coordination with payroll, and reported to the MPO for our regular project briefings… Others outside the project recognize the work Angel does and see her as synonymous with the traffic project.” 

With these opportunities, Barnett builds meaningful experience, leading to more rewarding work. In Work Scholars, “my job is fulfilling, like I mean something; like I’m appreciated; like I’m making a difference.” And despite working 30 hours fewer compared to her old full-time job, “The same effort I’m applying now stretches so much further than it did before. I’m able to do more,” Barnett recalls with pride.

Before Work Scholars, Barnett worked full-time. The work neither benefited her future after college, nor did it accommodate her full-time student schedule. “When I talked [about my school schedule] with my managers they said, ‘Oh, you’re one of those smart science-types’ and blew it off. It did not feel like the right place for me.” After joining Work Scholars and receiving the benefits of the program, Barnett has left her outside job to focus on opportunities that will further her future.

"The same effort I’m applying now stretches so 
much further than it did before. I’m able to do more."

Barnett has also been able to leverage her extra time by gaining more experiences, and reinforcing her Earth Science degree with minors in Environmental Studies and GIS. She has completed internships at the University of Idaho in Moscow, attended regional GIS and water quality conferences, and helped lead classes of LCSC students on a scientific exploration of Hells Canyon. The research done in Hells Canyon will bring new knowledge about the local environment. “It’s important because the canyon is so restricted. You need permits and special boats, so there’s not been a lot of data that’s been collected up there.” This information will help the region better understand the local environment. Having this kind of research experience will give her a competitive advantage as she looks forward to graduate school.

For further information about the LC Work Scholars Program, contact Coordinator Erin Cassetto at (208) 792-2084 or

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