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June 25, 2014
By Summer Lowe, media relations assistant
Two alumnae of Northwest Missouri State University’s emergency disaster management (EDM) program are building careers on the opportunities and experiences they enjoyed while earning their degrees.
Kathleen Wilmes, a 2013 graduate, is a disaster program specialist for the American Red Cross, and Chance Long, who graduated from Northwest in the spring, has begun her career as a disaster coordinator with the Northwest Missouri Regional Council of Governments.
“Very few universities have an EDM undergraduate program,” Wilmes said. “So graduating with this degree made me a more competitive applicant when entering the job market.”
While earning her degree at Northwest, Wilmes served on the Campus Community Emergency Response Team, and she interned with the Maryville Public Safety Department and the Nodaway County Emergency Management Agency.
Wilmes said she chose the degree program because it complemented her political science studies. She noted disasters often involve multiple jurisdictions, and her experiences at Northwest enhanced her ability to be involved with multiple emergency response teams.
As a disaster program specialist, Wilmes assists with disaster cycle services such as emergency preparedness, planning, response and long-term recovery in 11 counties in the Red Cross’ eastern Kansas territory.
Wilmes has had the opportunity to be involved at every layer within her field. She has given preparedness presentations, updated operating procedures, and assisted with casework that provides both emergency and long-term assistance to clients.
Long also obtained bachelor’s degrees from Northwest in EDM and political science. She decided to pursue her EDM degree while she considered minors for her political science degree. Long said she instantly enjoyed all of her EDM-related coursework, and when the program was expanded from an academic minor to a major in 2012 she was among the first students to sign up.
Long said she enjoyed the EDM major because it offers hands-on experiences that teach students all aspects of emergency preparedness. Long participated in high-intensity disaster training exercises such as Atlantic Hope and Missouri Hope, which place participants in disaster simulations and test their reactions in pressure situations.
“Between CERT certifications and MOHOPE there are hands-on experiences that show one how to react in a stressful situation as well as the behind-the-scenes part of disaster coordination that people hardly think about – the funding, the logistics and the supply movement,” Long said.
As a Northwest student, Long worked on a TransCanada grant to obtain funding for a fire department in Maitland. Her application was successful and the money is going toward community betterment and safety for the surrounding area.
Now, as a disaster coordinator, Long works with local businesses, economic development organizations and units of governments to assist with the restoration of local communities and their economies. She also is a community and county liaison to state and federal recovery agencies.
Long is working closely with northwest Missouri counties to write a plan to help solve problems associated with flooding and ensure counties are better prepared to deal with flooding.
Long said the education she received at Northwest prepared her to step right into her career.
“Northwest prepared me in many different ways,” Long said. “With the professors that offered great learning opportunities and hands-on experience I am able to meet with people I have never met before and get right to work.”
Northwest’s EDM program is the only comprehensive residential emergency and disaster management program in the region. Course instruction is provided by Northwest faculty and staff who have regional and national roles in emergency management. For information about the EDM program, click here.
Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager
firstname.lastname@example.org | 660.562.1704 | Fax: 660.562.1900
Northwest Missouri State University
215 Administration Building | 800 University Drive | Maryville, MO 64468