ANNISTON, Ala. – Jacksonville State University (JSU) was damaged by the March 19-20 tornadoes and severe storms that hit northeast Alabama as early damage assessments by JSU projected as much as $42 million in rebuilding costs.
The university has applied to the State of Alabama to participate in FEMA’s Public Assistance Program (PA). The PA program provides federal funds to help eligible governments and certain other organizations such as JSU to repair, replace or restore disaster-damaged facilities.
As an added benefit, FEMA is hiring several students who have just graduated from or currently are enrolled in the university’s accredited Emergency Management Program to help administer FEMA Public Assistance grants to repair and rebuild the university’s infrastructure.
These project management apprentice jobs are temporary professional positions that give the recent graduates first-hand experience in their chosen profession.
“I think this is a great opportunity for our graduates to put their skills into practice and to learn more from the field as part of the FEMA apprenticeship program,” said Dr. Tanveer Islam, JSU Associate Professor and Director of Doctoral Program Department of Emergency Management, “I hope the experience they will gather from this program will act as a stepping stone to their future career in emergency management.”
Brett Howard, State of Alabama coordinating officer for the disaster agrees: “This is a unique opportunity to tap into a valuable local resource at JSU – the university’s emergency management program graduates, who will be working with us to manage grants for rebuilding the university campus. It’s a great opportunity for us and them.”
JSU offers bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate level programs in emergency management and boasts more than 600 graduates. The programs prepare students to lead communities, states and the country to prepare for and recover from all types of emergencies, including minor and major disasters.
“While FEMA turns to the local workforce to help communities recover,” said Thomas McCool, FEMA’s federal coordinating officer for this Alabama disaster, “this is a unique opportunity for both FEMA and the young men and women participating in this apprentice program. For FEMA, it allows us to put already-trained personnel into key positions while allowing these young people to put their collegiate experience to immediate and valuable use,” he added. “Moreover, local employees have an understanding of the community that’s instrumental to our work here.”
Justin Lea, a recent JSU graduate and now FEMA Public Assistance apprentice, said he sees his future in some type of emergency management position but is unsure if it will be local, state or federal. “Emergency Management has many different levels and this job will give me a good introduction into which route I want to take,” he said.
Natasha Jackson, another recent graduate of JSU’s Emergency Management Program was clearly delighted to be offered the job: “This gives us more and real experience and gets our foot in the door.”