The Collegian
Monday, April 15, 2024

Letter: A disaster science success story

To the Editor:

It was with great interest that I read the article about dissatisfaction among disaster science students (April 16) in the School of Continuing Studies' program. I found the information in it somewhat confusing, given my own recent experiences.

The article suggests that there were unrealistic graduation expectations. I distinctly recall on several occasions that Walter Green, the thesis chairman for my master's in disaster science and chairman of the Emergency Services Management program, informed me that a two-semester process to complete my thesis was not a standard, but existed for administrative purposes.

I experienced no problems with my committee selection. It was always my understanding that it was my responsibility to choose my own committee, a process for which I am grateful because it allowed me to select members with whom I was familiar. They were also able to periodically review my work as it progressed, rather than all at once.

I deployed to Iraq in September 2006, and it was largely thanks to the efforts of Emergency Management and Disaster Science department staff that I was able to stay on track. I found that much of the work I completed in Iraq was directly related to my thesis project and in some cases directly transferable. This was not surprising because I had been advised by Green and others to write everything for my thesis preparation from the beginning.

And despite my great distance -- I live nearly eight hours away -- and my deployments, I was able to complete the process with minimum difficulty. I walked on May 9 and expect that by the end of the month I will be able to defend my thesis. This is due in large part to both my efforts and those of Green, who gave me all of the time that I needed. I believe that my willingness to keep steady and open communication with my committee and the efforts of Green has resulted in a very fair and uncomplicated process.

I have recommended the undergraduate and graduate Emergency Services Management programs to several of my fellow military members, and I think it's only fair to note that if there have been students who have experienced difficulties, success stories should also be noted.

Christopher J. Mason

Somerset, Ky., May 12, 2009

The writer graduated summa cum laude from the School of Continuing Studies with a bachelor's in Emergency Services Management in 2006, while also earning double minors in Homeland Defense and Emergency Management. He will defend his thesis for a master's in disaster science at the end of this month.

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