As an Environment, Health and Safety professional with UTC Aerospace Systems in Wilson, North Carolina, University of Findlay alumnus Timothy Fernandez ’15 works to keep his fellow employees safe while protecting the environment. With five years of experience in the environmental health and safety field, and as a graduate of the Master of Science in Environmental, Safety and Health Management (ESHM) Program, Fernandez has expertise in the field. It’s a multidisciplinary profession which requires knowledge in fields such as biology, chemistry, geology, hydrology, physics and physiology; a desire to solve problems; and a drive for continuous self-improvement.
Protecting the environment and keeping people safe are at the core of what Fernandez does and the reason he loves his job. But to him it is more than a job. He believes this is a higher calling from God. “What better calling is there than protecting the Earth God created and his people as they fulfill their biblical duty to work?” Environmental consciousness and hazard recognition fuel Fernandez’s dedication every day as he manages wastewater discharge, hazardous waste disposal and spill prevention and maintains a safe and healthy work place. Findlay prepared him by teaching the skills to not only read regulatory text, but to cut through the words and apply the intent to training and procedures.
“This is not just about my ability to decipher, interpret, or translate. It is about having knowledge of available resources and tools that I can turn to when I get stuck,” he explained. “Writing documents for environmental health and safety programs is not like writing any other business communication. The assignments at UF allowed me to hone my writing skills and develop the ability to be just as specific as needed without giving too much information. I love writing, and now I can be creative and artistic when I want to, familial and friendly when needed, or informative, specific, and succinct,” he said.
In addition to environmental protection, Fernandez and his two co-workers help keep 800 employees safe. Through applying best management practices to Occupational Safety and Health Administration required programs in the workplace and employee activities, Fernandez and his co-workers have received multiple safety awards from the North Carolina Commissioner of Labor for achieving different levels of millions of man hours without a lost time injury, eventually reaching 13 million hours.
Fernandez chose the University of Findlay for three reasons. “First, they were recommended to me by a gentleman I spoke to on the phone at one of our environmental service providers. Second, I noticed that UF was one of four schools listed on the Board of Certified Safety Professionals website,” he explained. “Third, when I started poking around in the UF website, I realized it was the best fit for me. The accelerated program with two, eight week sessions each semester was attractive to me.”
UF’s ESHM master’s program can be taken on campus, online or through a blend of both and is built around working professionals. “I’m the kind of person who wants to be immersed in what I’m learning. The terms were short, intense, and kept me focused. It put me in a situation where I was learning the way I learn best: immersion and high intensity,” he said.
Findlay professors Bill Doyle, Ph.D., James Jaffe, J.D. and Luanne Cummings, D.M. had a major impact on Fernandez from the beginning. “My advisor, Dr. Bill Doyle, earned my respect early on during my first class. He called me at my home in North Carolina to verify the meaning of an answer I provided on an assignment. I believe I had at least one phone call with each instructor I had.” Jaffe and Cummings provided additional support through coaching, advice and always being available during the course to take phone calls and work through assignments.
Driving from North Carolina to campus for the first time, meeting his advisor and walking at commencement were sentimental moments for Fernandez. “I made friends, made professional contacts and have great relationships with professors, despite the fact that I was attending classes online,” he said. Fernandez hung his master’s diploma right next to his undergraduate diploma, and each day he walks by it, he can’t help but to look at it and smile.
Fernandez found the experience wonderful and rewarding as a nontraditional online student. “Findlay was worth every moment I put into it. The more I put into it, the more I got out of it! I thank God for my time there and the people I met. I would definitely recommend Findlay to others and I’m proud to talk about my degree and the program I was in. Once an Oiler, always an Oiler!” he added.