As the only school in Kansas to offer a four-year Emergency Management degree, Kansas Wesleyan University takes great pride in preparing its Emergency Management students for their career fields ahead.
Part of this preparation involves sending high-achieving students to the Kansas Emergency Management Association (KEMA) conference as interns. KEMA focuses on bringing together emergency managers from across Kansas for networking and learning opportunities.
This year, Kansas Wesleyan sent three students to Mulvane for a KEMA conference from Sept. 14-17: Allison Blumenthal, Rachael McWilliams and Joshua Walker.
“The opportunity to network with hundreds of emergency management professionals from the state of Kansas isn’t an opportunity you come across often,” Blumenthal said. “I learned more about the laws and logistics side of emergency management than I had ever imagined was there.”
While at the conference, the three interns helped provide those in attendance with badges and meal tickets before getting their chance to attend conferences and socialize with professionals in their field.
“It took the veil off of emergency management and showed that they are real people working together,” McWilliams said. “I didn’t realize how many hats an emergency manager wears when they are in smaller counties.”
For Walker, the KEMA conference proved fruitful, and he secured an internship with the Dickinson County Emergency Management director, Chancy Smith, while networking.
“I obtained a lot of information and best practices just from the few days I got to spend with everyone there,” he said. “It was a true honor to have the opportunity to meet with so many professionals in our desired field and build a relationship with them.”
Blumenthal, who double majors in Criminal Justice and Emergency Management, quickly realized that learning emergency management would boost her repertoire of skills for her career in law enforcement.
McWilliams, alternatively, let her prior interests guide her.
“In high school I loved doing community service and, as a football manager, I put a smile on the faces of football players that just broke their nose or fingers,” McWilliams said. “When I realized emergency management could let me help people put a smile on [their] faces, I knew that’s what I wanted to do.”
In Walker’s case, emergency management has been on his mind for 10 years, since tornados tore through Joplin, Mo. and Moore, Okla.
“My family drove from Milwaukee, Wisc. to both impacted cities to help with the recovery and disaster relief to the survivors,” he said. “I took part in donation collection and distribution to the survivors directly through a church in Joplin, as well as helping organize donations at the local Salvation Army in Moore. I enjoyed the face-to-face interactions with the survivors and seeing the joy on their face when they received even the most basic necessities.”
Once they graduate from Kansas Wesleyan, each student will take their experience in a different route.
Blumenthal intends to put her skill to the test in law enforcement after she obtains a master’s degree.
McWilliams plans to get her EMT certification and, ideally, become a local emergency manager later in her career.
Walker wants to take his knowledge back home to Wisconsin or remain in Kansas, and hopes to work in a nonprofit organization, such as The American Red Cross or Salvation Army, where he can once again help out in disaster situations.
As a senior, Walker is thankful for the KEMA opportunity, the most recent professional development chance provided by KWU.
“I strongly encourage those that are serious about going into emergency management fields and given the opportunity to go, to take full advantage of it and soak in as much information as possible,” Walker said.
By Skylar Nelson ’21