Emergency management is celebrating a milestone — 20 years. Twenty years since the start of a program partially created by former FEMA director James Lee Witt.
Over those years, hundreds of students have graduated and are having an impact across the globe. But this is not a story of the past. Instead, this is a story focused on a bright future.
This future is focused on three key tenets of the field:
Emergency Management Policy
Networking and Transferable Skills
As the world is increasingly depending on emergency managers in the wake of summer disasters, we pay tribute to the history Arkansas Tech brings to this field by looking at the experiences of three Tech graduates who are making an impact in the Nation’s capital.
Through their stories, it is clear that this program is preparing students to not only serve as emergency managers but to serve as leaders throughout our nation.
Managing a Crisis in the Capital City
Assistant Director of Emergency Management
George Washington University
A career in emergency management focuses on crisis situations—both in preparing and responding. Hallie Nix lives these aspects in her role as assistant director in the Office of Emergency Management at The George Washington University.
Preparation is essential in this career and her leadership role. Playing host to countless dignitaries and special guests, Nix works to help keep citizens safe. Her resume includes working on plans for the inauguration, graduation on the National Mall and a visit by the Pope.
Outside of classes, Nix spent time on campus in a variety of organizations. including band, Tau Beta Sigma, International Emergency Managers Association, Student Activities Board and intramurals. She also served as a resident assistant and a resident director.
Nix hopes future emergency management students will make the most of their experiences in the Arkansas Tech program.
Building from a Solid Foundation
Director of Correspondence
The White House
One role of college is to help students learn how to make connections and build transferable skills that can be utilized regardless of the degree earned. This rings especially true for graduate Catherine Wilkins. Wilkins currently serves as the director of correspondence at the White House.
Wilkins credits her D.C. experiences to a connection she made as a student at Arkansas Tech. Following the internship with James Lee Witt’s firm, Wilkins remained in the city working for Senator Tom Cotton for four years before joining the inauguration committee to help plan the most recent inauguration.
Regardless of the positions she’s held, Wilkins said Arkansas Tech has prepared her for any challenge she’s faced. Wilkins hopes future Tech students display the same grit and persistence she developed.
Power in Policy
Senior Policy Analyst
Emergency management happens at both the national and state levels. This means two levels of legislation, state agencies and federal agencies all play a role and impact the profession.
Rachel Mouser, senior policy analyst for the National Emergency Management Association (NEMA), works to ensure state and federal emergency managers are working together to craft policies that have a positive impact on the field.
Mouser found her calling in emergency management in an elective course she took. In addition to her studies, Mouser connected to campus through her involvement in intramurals. She was also active in the International Association of Emergency Managers, the Community Emergency Response Team and active in her church in her hometown of Harrison.
As Arkansas Tech celebrates 20 years of its emergency management program, Mouser said the milestone highlights the innovation and opportunity Tech saw when it created the program.
As Arkansas Tech begins preparing students for the next 20 years in emergency management, the future of the field is focused on technology.
One of the changes in the field is utilizing technology like drones to conduct damage assessments. By utilizing technology, responders are able to gather information about a situation without having to risk responders going into dangerous areas.
In the fall, ATU began incorporating a drone class into its coursework in order to ensure that students are prepared for managing a crisis in the field.
While the material covered in the courses may change in the next 20 years, ATU’s emergency management programs will continue preparing students on the three core competencies of crisis management, policy and networking and transferable skills.