10 years of COM safety grads serving in NASA, industry
Christi Baker, College of the Mainland graduate, knows her role as safety technician for Turner Industries Group is critical.
“My role is to ensure that everybody goes home safely. It’s also keeping the community and environment safe from chemicals,” said Baker, of League City. “When I leave for the day, I feel I’ve made a difference.”
While Baker serves in industry, Reese Squires, of League City, is safety manger for a contractor at the NASA Johnson Space Center. She oversees the safety, health, environmental and emergency preparedness activities for a group of support services.
“The most rewarding part of my job is helping our employees understand why safety is important, not just on the job, but at home and at play as well,” said Squires.
Squires took on the role after graduation from the COM Occupational Safety, Health and Technology Program.
“I was one of the first students in the OSHT Program when it began in 2007 and one of its first graduates, completing the program in 16 months. Prior to attending COM, all of my knowledge and skill in safety came from on-the-job experience. The degree in OSHT from COM, along with my bachelor’s degree, helped to solidify my credentials as a safety professional,” said Squires.
Squires continues to give back as a COM OSHT Program advisory board member, serving on the committee of professionals who help determine what topics students should master.
The COM Occupational Safety and Health Technology Program celebrates 10th anniversary this year.
One grad, Corey Greenroad, of Kemah, entered the safety field after taking COM classes and now serves as a health, safety and environment advisor for ExxonMobil on the scan finder project in Beaumont.
“COM gave me the knowledge but most importantly gave me the ability to engage with both management and the craft (safety),” said Greenroad. “As safety personnel, we may not directly save lives, but we change how a person may think about what they may do and that saves their lives.”
Students can earn a degree or certificate in hands-on classes. The program launched in 2007 thanks to a grant.
“Students learn to develop a safety program to ensure employees’ work safety no matter where the workplace is. They can go anywhere – construction, petrochemical plants, retail, insurance, risk management. Any place needs someone to do record keeping and make sure it’s safe,” said Jeff Oakley, program director.
Students explore safety in real-world classes, from using fire extinguishers to analyzing a model of hand to see proper muscle activity.
“I’ve worked in several industries. I worked for a defense contractor, Johnson and Johnson making sutures for needles. I was part of a team designing parts for the Ford Ranger Excursion and Super Duty so they’re easier to assemble safely,” said instructor Camille Major, safety quality and environmental manager for logistics contract for NASA. “We know our students are mostly adult learners with experience and full-time jobs so we accommodate that.”
The program this year has launched three new scholarships for students for a total of seven.
“This program is preparing people today for needs of tomorrow. It will help them advance where they are if they don’t want to look for different employment,” said Major. “It’s always a good time to go into safety and health.”