Graduate Degree Essay “My application essay to grad school in 2014"
Graduate School of Public Health, College of
Health and Human Services, Division of Environmental Health Master of
Public Health (MPH) program with concentration in Environmental Health.
1. REASONS FOR INTEREST IN PUBLIC HEALTH: Public health for me is both a professional interest and a personal one. For the past seven years, I have made my career in occupational safety and health. From September, 2011 to the present, I have been Director of Safety Training and then Safety Manager at Smart Safety Group, a well-known safety consulting company that provides safety-management services, including safety program management and training, to hazardous industries in the San Diego area, including general contractors, utilities, and construction firms. I develop, implement, and manage these safety programs. This work requires extensive technical and industry knowledge, and involves managing training programs, teaching many safety courses, on-site safety management and audits, and informal training and communication in the field. In response to incidents and unsafe conditions, I work with accident victims and physicians, do investigation and complex root-cause analysis, prescribe corrective actions, and then monitor and evaluate their effectiveness. Before joining Smart Safety, I was Territory Sales Manager at Capital Safety North America (formerly DBI-SALA) the leading manufacturer of fall-protection systems and equipment. Capital's clients were in transportation (railroads, trucking, aircraft, and buses and trains for mass transit), utilities, mining, energy (oil, gas, wind), public works, and residential, commercial, and institutional construction. Sales of safety equipment, and especially of complex engineered safety systems, is a hands-on, highly technical responsibility with a major training component, and I was recognized as a unique resource for technical knowledge, and for exceptional class response in the training I delivered. Throughout my career in safety management, I have actively sought to expand my knowledge and also my ability to train others. I hold a number of certifications as a trainer (including industrial safety systems, first aid, CPR, and AED, as well as competency certifications in areas such as hazardous waste, industrial hygiene, evacuation and emergency workplace planning, and various construction industry topics. I have also developed extensive connections with safety equipment manufacturers and construction industry associations. In addition to learning a great deal from these connections, I have often been a guest speaker on safety topics at industry events. In December of 2013, I was certified as a Construction Health & Safety Technician (CHST), and have met the education and experience requirements for taking the Associate Safety Professional examination, which is the next-to-last step in the process of qualifying as a Certified Safety Professional (CSP), the industry-standard qualification in industrial safety.In industrial safety, management and administrative responsibilities are an important aspect of the work. Business, insurance, and regulatory perspectives are also very prominent. My experience in these areas, and the knowledge I gained while studying for my B.A. in Business Management (University of St. Thomas, St. Paul, MN, May 2007) enable me to educate client management (corporate or government) on safety management options and their benefits, to work with senior client management to develop programs and policies, and to communicate with them on an ongoing basis. I expect that the knowledge gained in a Master of Public Health program would further improve my ability to communicate with management and government authorities, to make the case for safety programs, and to develop programs that are more effective, more comprehensive, and better tailored to specific situations. On the personal side, I have always been interested in medicine and health. I wanted to be a doctor when I was young. I enjoy reading books and articles on occupational health and safety (for example, Flirting with Disaster, by Marc Gerstein) and also on medicine.My extra-professional activities are in areas where safety is a critical subject, and I am active both as a participant and an instructor. I am an advanced open water SCUBA diver, a member of the Professional Association of Diving Instructors, and an American Sailing Association Instructor. I also organized and led informal wilderness trips while I was at the University of St. Thomas and in the USMC.I am also medically retired from the USMC, due to an accident in Amphibious Reconnaissance training which required a right hip replacement. I spent almost a year not walking. I know what it is like to get seriously hurt in the line of duty and not to be able to do the things that I like to do and need to do, and I want to help make sure that others are not hurt at work so that they can continue to support their families and do the things that they love. I believe that major improvements in industrial safety are achievable, and that I will be in a better position to achieve this with the knowledge and perspectives provided by further education in the field of public safety.2, 3. REASONS FOR INTEREST IN ACADEMIC DEPARTMENT OR CONCENTRATION; REASONS FOR INTEREST IN THE SCHOOL OR PROGRAM:A number of my colleagues are graduates of the Master of Public Health program at SDSU, with the concentration in Environmental Health. It is their recommendation and example that particularly drew my attention to the school and the program. Environmental health is a standard qualification in the field of occupational safety and health, and I am interested in applying a broader public health perspective to my specialty in industrial safety and health. 4. CAREER GOALS: I expect that I will probably stay in my current specialty in industrial safety and health. With the MPH program, I would like to qualify myself to take on higher-level and broader responsibilities in that field. Another area of possible interest is in product development for industrial safety systems and equipment. 5. IF YOU ARE APPLYING TO A DOCTORAL PROGRAM, YOUR PROPOSED RESEARCH TOPICS: Though I am not applying to a doctoral program, I would like to participate in public health research while pursuing my degree. There are several particular areas that I might explore in the course of meeting the program requirement for a thesis, project, or special study. These include: correlations between accident rates and mandatory use of personal protection equipment; correlations between accident rates and regular safety training; and "distracted driving" issues with employees who may do work-related texting or e-mailing while driving for business purposes. I would also be interested in spending some time studying abroad while applying the techniques I learn. In general, because I have never worked abroad, I think this experience would be valuable to me in many ways. Comparison of safety rates and safety issues abroad with those in the U.S. could be valuable for safety practice generally. More specifically, safety issues abroad can be very different from those in the U.S., especially in undeveloped countries where there are no enforceable safety policies or wider public/environmental health policy. In these situations, achieving industrial safety goals could involve a wider range of public and environmental health issues than it commonly does in the U.S. Foreign safety issues and safety practice would be especially important if I were to take on industrial safety responsibility in an international company, or work in developing countries as a teacher or consultant.