Featuring Dr. Jeanie Webb, President of Rose State
Story & Photos by Payton Hayes
“I keep my notebook to take notes and jot down important details or unplanned information. You never know when you’re going to need to remember something important.”
“I can’t see. I keep a pair of glasses in my purse, in my car, on my desk. If they aren’t on my face, I’m carrying them with me to use when I need them.”
“I shake many, many hands in a day and I don’t want to carry germs around with me. We want to keep a healthy campus and staff. We need our team.”
“I’m a female! I’ve got to keep an extra lipstick on hand, for touch-ups throughout the day!”
“I always have my iPhone. I keep it with me for notes, phone calls, emails, messages and everything else to help keep the campus informed. It is important to communicate constantly with the campus.”
If you could go back in time, what item would you put in your bag for an emergency situation?
“I wish I would have remembered to bring tennis shoes to the capital. Wearing heels up and down the stairs at the capital, all day will kill your feet. And a bottle of water, to stay hydrated during long meetings.”
Jackie Wright and his students join Albert Ashwood on Oct. 31, 2017 to attend “Operation Earth, Wind, and Fire” at the State Emergency Operations Center (EOC) for the annual statewide Full-Scale Exercise, where all the county and larger city emergency management officers practice responding to a variety of scenarios. (Photo courtesy of Jackie Wright)
Story & Photo by Emily Siddiqui
The first two courses launched in the spring of 2016, and by the
fall, the program was in full swing. Students can choose to complete just the certificate, which consists of nine courses, or they can aim for the full Emergency Management Associate in Science degree. Both online and in-class options are available, and there are currently no textbooks required. This makes program completion especially convenient for working adults.
Now, there are 29 students enrolled in Wright’s EM classes. This number is expected to grow with the increase of program awareness and the demand for emergency managers to fill positions. Rose State’s program is only one of 11 of its kind in the entire country, as far as associate degrees specific to emergency management.
So, what exactly does an emergency manager do? Contrary to a common misconception, emergency managers are not first responders. In fact, the two roles are very different. Wright thinks this cannot be emphasized enough. While first responders are on-call to deal with emergencies directly, emergency managers are the resource coordinators, the people in charge of logistics.
“It’s been equated to being the stage manager for a production; the behind-the-scenes persons that make everything work,” Wright explained.
The general public may be more attracted to or aware of first responder jobs, with all the adrenaline rushes and sirens involved—but none of those jobs, though crucial, can be accomplished without a support system in place—and that’s where emergency managers come in. They make plans to prevent, and most importantly, educate citizens about handling emergencies. Working with clients, necessary levels of government, or both, they ensure a plan is in place for various types of disasters; they also strive to keep their clients updated on new developments or materials to stay prepared. From fire evacuation procedures and tornado shelter placements to hurricane preparedness and terrorism threats, emergency managers are proactively at work.
A primary responsibility for emergency managers, however, is actually to train others how to plan and act independently.
“The more people we can teach to take care of themselves, the less thin[ly]-spread our first responders are, and that’s the
purpose behind the program,” Wright pointed out.
Resilience, self-reliance, mitigation—that is, the strategic lessening of a disaster’s impact—are among the most vital keys to successful emergency management.
As the country’s population continues to increase, so does the need for emergency managers. Wright explained the average manager-to-citizen ratio should be 1-to-25,000, but is projected to grow as the years pass. This means more managers will be needed in the near future. “It’s a rapidly growing field,” he said.
Jobs within emergency management can vary quite widely. As someone who has also worked in the safety, industrial, hygiene and occupational safety fields, Wright explained emergency management goes hand-in-hand with them all, and more and more companies are beginning to realize that.
The U.S. Department of Labor reported the median annual wage of emergency management directors with a bachelor’s degree to be $70,500 in 2016, with projected employment growth increasing 8 percent by 2026.
Whether EM majors at Rose choose to pursue the entire degree or just the certificate in emergency planning and preparedness, they can expect to be ready to work with real-world problems.
“Students would be prepared for an entry-level position by simply completing the certificate,” Wright said.
The program has proven beneficial outside the arena of emergencies as well. EM major Karen Woods is studying to enhance her skills for her job at Tinker Air Force Base, where she oversees 23 different units, including emergency management. Woods initially was studying business, but after eavesdropping on a few of Wright’s classes, she couldn’t help but wonder what drove his passionate lectures. When she learned it was emergency management, she realized the program was a perfect fit for her own passion: helping people in need. Unsurprisingly, that’s also Wright’s reason for working and teaching in the field: “You have to have a servant’s heart, and you have to want to help people.”
Woods and several others have testified they use tools learned in class wherever they go. Mitigation has been Woods’ favorite class so far, because she said it can be applied not only at work, but also at home.
“It doesn’t matter where you work [or] what you do; this is something that everybody can take with them and utilize out in the world,” she stated.
Woods is excited to expand her influence in the world of emergency management. Simply through the program courses, doors have been opened for her.
“I’m already benefiting from the program just by the networking,” she said. Wright commented that plenty of EM students have expressed similar confidence.
A handful of schools in Oklahoma either have or are developing programs to which students can transfer to further their EM education. Rose currently has articulation agreements with Southeastern Oklahoma State University and the University of Oklahoma; agreements with the University of Central Oklahoma and Northeastern State University are expected to develop soon, Wright said.
As far as supplemental opportunities for EM majors at Rose, there are a few events in the works. Starting Feb. 22, a series of speakers on topics within emergency management will be featured at the Community Learning Center auditorium every two weeks, in partnership with the OEM. The purpose of the series, “The Disaster Next Door,” is to educate more people about disasters in Oklahoma, in hopes of encouraging preparedness. The series is free to the public. For reminders and sneak peeks into each session, follow The 6420 on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
Story by Yesenia Gonzalez • Photo by Toni Ross
Bare tree branches, a crackling fireplace and gently falling snow evoke an image of a chilly winter’s day. A telltale sign preceding the frigid months is the fallen leaves strewn about campus. The winter weather brings changes to plant life. Dr. Adjoa Ahedor, Rose State professor of biological sciences, described some of the transformations that occur in plants during winter.
She explained that a plant pigment called phytochrome helps plants perceive changes in the environment. Acting as an internal clock, the ratio of active and inactive levels of photochrome affects how the plants respond to the daylight changes during winter. Oklahoma’s dynamic winter weather patterns can be difficult to predict. Plants native to an area know not to bloom even if the temperature suddenly increases for a period of time during the winter. However, non-native plants are
not assimilated with Oklahoma’s weather and can start blooming prematurely.
Ahedor further explained that plants slow their metabolism as they prepare for a period of dormancy. As plants shut
down their mechanisms, the visual evidence is the scarlet-colored leaves crunching underneath the feet of students rushing to classes across campus.
“If the cold is prolonged and goes close to spring, it may delay spring growth,” Ahedor said.
Oklahoma is no stranger to drastic weather changes. Rose State’s Earth and Environmental Sciences Coordinator Steve Carano said this year’s winter will not be as warm or as dry as last year’s. A leading factor in Oklahoma’s dynamic weather patterns is its proximity to the Gulf of Mexico, which is where a lot of moisture comes from.
Until the green season in April and May, wildfires remain a concern as winter progresses because of the lack of moisture in the air. As for spring weather, Carano explained that weather patterns maintain natural cycles, and winter weather does not necessarily dictate what the weather will be like in the next season. Distinct environmental factors are occurring, causing the color changes in the leaves surrounding the Rose State campus. Nature is at play in the background of everyday life, affecting weather and everything around it in seemingly subtle but intricate ways.
As Carano put it, “Mother nature will humble you if you are not humbled.”
Story by Reginal Fields - Photo by JaNae Williams
At Rose State, the average age of undergraduate students is higher than that of most universities; in fact, the average student is 25. Almost half of Rose students are older than 25, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. This means classes at Rose State consist of students spanning more than one generation.
Because of the technological and educational changes over the years, learning styles for the different generations vary. Thus, it is crucial for a successful educational institution to address and accommodate different learning styles. Multi-generational classrooms are considered to be called “merged learning environments.” It provides an opportunity for students and faculty alike to exchange information, share knowledge and talk about careers and life.
The generations found in the Rose State classroom include: Traditionalists (also known as the Silent Generation), born between 1925-1942; Baby Boomers, born from 1943-1960; Generation X, born between 1961-1981; and Millennials, born from 1982-2000, with some introducing a new micro-generation called Xennials for those born between 1977 and 1983 (people who did not grow up with at-home computer technology but were introduced to it in their late teens/early 20s). The ways in which each group approaches their education are different and so are their learning styles.
Technology is the catalyst that is changing how students learn. Rose State Business Professor Amanda Foote stated that the educational system has changed over the years by offering early morning, evening and online classes. Today’s merged learning styles are about bringing the technical skills of the Millennial and the work-centric skills of the Traditionalist and Baby Boomer generations together as partners that build confidence. Research has shown that Millennials work well with these specific generations.
Janet Griffith, Rose State Coordinator of Student Access Services and Special Services, discussed how older generations can learn to speak the language of the younger ones. They no longer expect the Millennials to adapt to the older generations’ languages.
“We all need to learn to speak each other’s language. The Baby Boomers and Traditionalists need to go the [extra] mile to understand the younger generations,” she said. However, Traditionalists and Baby Boomers experience a learning curve when it comes to working with constantly evolving technology. With the elevated number of older generations in the classroom, merged learning opportunities exist for everyone—no matter their generation—providing chances to teach and learn about work ethic and life experiences. Clearly, there are many benefits to having multi-generational classrooms.
“Pharmaceutical companies made billions promoting the aggressive prescribing of opioids,” said Dr. Andrew Kolodny, senior scientist at Brandeis University, in a Time article written by Haley Sweetland Edwards.
Why is physical therapy not an option most physicians provide? Drugs are the quickest fix. Physical therapy can take weeks, months or even years to help manage pain, which is why many turn to a medication that can alter the brain to not feel pain for a select period of time. However, the cause of the pain is not actually being treated, just the brain’s response to the pain it is receiving.
According to Edwards, “33,000 Americans died of opioid overdoses in 2015 alone, state and federal guidelines have encouraged doctors to co-prescribe opioids with a drug that reverses an overdose.” So, essentially there is a pill to stop the first pill.
Vicki Buchanan, physical therapist and founder of Regional Physical Therapy, Inc. located in Midwest City, was inspired to help patients regain their independence from pain.
Like surgeons, physical therapists address mechanical problems without the onset of medication. By the time patients arrive to physical therapy, if at all, they have usually gone through at least three rounds of medications for the pain they are feeling, according to Buchanan. The cycle that Buchanan, who has been in this business for 31 years, illustrated mainly occurs in this way: a patient informs their doctor they have pain; the doctor gives the patient a prescription to relieve the pain; the patient returns to the doctor insisting the pain has not ceased; the doctor sends the patient to a pain management specialist who will then prescribe yet another dose of medication that may involve an anti-inflammatory. Many Americans believe this is the only cycle they can live by to heal their pain.
The American Physical Therapy Association worked on a campaign called PT First to limit the vicious cycle of opioids by having doctors send their patients to a movement specialist for mechanical examination without pain medication, according to Buchanan.
Further progress has been made with the establishments of Fighting Addiction Through Education by Integris and the Austin Box Foundation. FATE helps people overcome opioid addiction. Gail Box, mother of Austin Box and former linebacker for the Oklahoma Sooners football team, works to raise awareness of prescription drug use with the ABF.
The practice of medicine is not aimed to destroy lives. However, it has been made to appear like the only way out for people suffering from pain. Acknowledging the mechanical error occurring and practicing healthy eating habits could very well result in the pain-free solution people are searching for.
This is only the beginning of a long list of other alternative recovery options.