Recently, I had the privilege of talking with three students from the University of North Texas in Denton as part of a class project. One of the students, Kristopher Davis, is considering a career in emergency management, and came to FEMA looking for guidance and information as he ponders this important decision.
Kristopher and the other students asked me questions about working in the emergency management field - what kind of experience it takes to become an emergency management leader, what aspects of my job would I keep and what would I change if I could, what are the rewards and benefits of emergency management as a career, and what advice would I give to a person who wanted to follow a similar career path.
I shared with them some of what led me to a career in emergency management, which began with my desire at a young age to help others. I explained how after serving with the military, I joined FEMA as a Federal Coordinating Officer. Being a military officer, I learned the importance of service and sacrifice which translated greatly to FEMA, which has the same ethos and focus. After eight years as a FCO, I headed up the FEMA office in Louisiana and was then appointed as the FEMA Region VI administrator.
I also shared with them some of the challenges they could face during an emergency management career. The stress of working a disaster for months, being away from your family and friends for extended periods of time, as well as the reality of the constraints we all face when state and federal budgets are tight are all sacrifices we must make to help disaster survivors.
I was thoroughly impressed with their intelligence, interest and drive, and was proud to offer up some of my expertise and experience and, hopefully, peak their interest in working for a federal agency such as FEMA in the coming years.
We are proud of our partnership and collaboration with UNT and are committed to working with the university to help develop coursework and cultivate opportunities for students. I look forward to the day when these students graduate and become emergency management leaders in Texas and across the nation.