Hear From Our Students
Nathan Johnson, BSEM 2017
Local Emergency Response Coordinator, Yakima Health District, WA
I am an alumnus of the UAF Bachelor of Emergency Management program; I also worked
at the University Fire Department as I went through the program.
When I first began the BEM program, I had no idea what emergency management was. My
first class was Principles of Homeland Security and Emergency Management taught by
Sean McGee. I remember sitting there the first day completely amazed, and I quickly
learned exactly what emergency management means. The concept of working on complex
plans with community partners to ensure the safety of the community hooked me right
away. After graduating, I moved back to Washington where I worked in a hospital emergency
room and led the ER’s Disaster Committee. Shortly after that, I found myself working
full time in an emergency management role. I am now the Local Emergency Response Coordinator
for the Yakima Health District. Within this position, I work on planning and responding
to public health emergencies.
As an alumnus, I can safely say that I would not be in the position that I am in now
if it weren’t for the BEM program. I would like to thank the College of Business and
Security Management faculty for opening my eyes to a career field that I previously
never realized existed.
Addendum - May, 2020
Right now I am the Incident Commander for Yakima County’s response to COVID-19. Yakima
County currently has the highest infection rate on the west coast, as 63% of our population
is essential workforce. Over the last few weeks, we have worked closely with the
CDC and the Washington State Department of Health to help reduce the infection rate.
It has been an unreal experience the last two and a half months - but it was the foundation
I built at UAF that has helped ensure my success in this role. Thank you again to
SOM's BSEM program!
Rachael Doniger, BSEM 2016
Dispatcher, Snohomish County Police Staff and Auxiliary Services Center, WA
The HSEM program at UAF allows people in the military or the emergency service fields
to highlight their skills and experiences and apply them toward the growing fields
of emergency management and homeland security. Working as a full-time 9-1-1 dispatcher,
I needed an affordable, quality program that was available online and flexible for
my schedule, and I found it at UAF. For me, a highlight of this program has been receiving
instruction from experienced professionals who can relate the course material to practical,
real-world applications. In addition, my fellow students come from a broad range of
professions and offer unique perspectives. My experience in the HSEM program has broadened
my own emergency dispatcher viewpoint to a more global emergency management perspective.
I strongly believe this degree can provide career advancement opportunities in both
the private and public sectors of emergency management.
Erick Anez, BSEM 2015
Business Continuity Administrator, Southwest Gas Corporation
The HSEM program at the University of Alaska Fairbanks has been a great educational
experience thus far. I first became aware of the program through inquiries to the
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) regarding which universities they recommend
and endorse. I learned that UAF’s program is listed on the FEMA Emergency Management
Institute’s “The College List” and that the online program is offered at resident
tuition rates for all students.
The course material has proven quite useful in my pursuit of education in the field
and also in my professional development as a business continuity professional. The
program instructors are great and have a wide range of hands-on industry experience,
which they share with their students. It is a great honor to learn from instructors
who work with FEMA, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and police and fire
departments and who are able to share the experiences and lessons learned throughout
At first, I was a bit concerned about the online learning format. However, I soon
realized that it suited my busy schedule quite well and I did not feel that I was
missing out on anything in comparison to a traditional classroom setting.
This program has allowed me to grow as a professional in the business continuity industry;
I recently became a Certified Business Continuity Professional and continue to grow
with every class and experience.
I highly recommend this program, not only to those seeking a career in public safety,
but also to those with an interest in business continuity and risk management.”
Sarah Saarloos, BSEM 2017
Public Information Officer, Alaska Incident Management Team, Anchorage, AK
A degree in emergency management was the perfect fit for my career in incident management.
The quality of the material is top-notch and the “real-life” relevancy of the lessons
can be applied to all types of careers. Obtaining this level of education complements
my years in the wildland firefighting field and has opened doors to exciting career