This summer Joseph Barker will be coming up on his one-year work anniversary. As Assistant City Planner, Barker — a Georgia native — has discovered his passion, now calling Shawnee home.

This summer Joseph Barker will be coming up on his one-year work anniversary. As Assistant City Planner, Barker — a Georgia native — has discovered his passion, now calling Shawnee home.

Barker said in college he chased the dream of becoming a lawyer. Soon, though, he realized it wasn't really what he wanted. After an internship in the planning department at St. Marys, Georgia, his senior year, he saw his future unfolding in a new direction.

With his internship almost over, Barker said fate would have it that the assistant planner there resigned, pushing him forward as an acting replacement. As he became more attached to the field, he began seeking permanent positions, applying in several communities in states around the region, like Florida and Colorado.

One of his interviews was in Shawnee, Oklahoma.

He accepted the position, making the journey to the heart of the country, despite having no family here.

Interim City Manager Eric Benson said he has been impressed with Barker's talent and ability.

Barker said Shawnee's demographics and geography are very similar to what he was already familiar with at home.

“St. Marys is about 40 minutes from Jacksonville, Florida,” he said. “There are a good bit of parallels between them and here (between Oklahoma City and Shawnee).”

He is no stranger to weather-related disasters, either, though his experience is more in line with hurricanes, wind and flooding.

“Tornadoes are something new for me,” he said.

And he said he had never seen hail or real winter before coming to Oklahoma.

Barker said he's used to a warmer Christmas season, as well.

“In Georgia, February is cool, like October is here,” he said. “And January there is more like November here.”

On the upside, he met his girlfriend in Shawnee and he spends much of his free time with her, as well as occupying himself with other activities like watching sports, reading and playing video games.

He said he likes football, basketball and baseball.

“Baseball is a bigger deal in Georgia than it is here,” he said.

Barker's 26th birthday is coming up June 3rd.