Student Reflections on Continuing Education

Karin Clark's Story

The Need for Continuous Learning in the Safety Profession

As Karin Clark moved up the ranks in the traffic control sector, she became acutely aware of the need for training. A self-described “sponge,” she took every opportunity to learn and grow. One of her responsibilities included educating others on safety best practices and, after a promotion to manager, she began taking Construction Safety Officer (CSO) training, which proved to be her debut into occupational health and safety (OHS) training.

After pursuing a range of training in OHS, the next logical step to Karin was writing her CRSP exam, but she did not feel ready given her current level of education. She believed something was missing.

A New Educational Experience

Karin’s colleague, a student in the Diploma of Safety, Health and Environmental Management (SHEM) program, recommended the University of Fredericton (UFred). Karin believed that what had been missing from her safety education thus far were structure and collaboration, something that she felt she would find at UFred: “I felt I would get far more from UFred’s SHEM course because it incorporated structured classes, assignments, and allowed for interaction with other safety people”.

This interaction and collaboration were game-changers for Karin, and proved to be what she needed to succeed:

“I really wanted the “classroom” experience and wanted to be able to interact with others. I’m a firm believer, as a trainer myself, that a lot of adult learning takes place between peers, and being able to interact with others in different facets of safety (industrial vs. manufacturing, etc.) would greatly broaden my skillset.”

A Flexible Human Touch

Life may bring unexpected circumstances, and during times of uncertainty, it can be difficult to manage rigid studies. In UFred, Karin also found the flexibility she needed to deal with a challenging event, ultimately going on to succeed in her studies:

UFred has worked with me through some personal issues, where I found myself unable to continue in a course due to a family illness. The staff in the admin department was able to set aside my course and allow me to complete it when life returned to “normal.” Having that kind of flexibility was extremely helpful.

Karin found the most value in what remained with her once she completed her studies. “I have met and continued to correspond with many different safety professionals,” she said, adding, “I have now successfully written the CRSP exam, and much of my study material was derived from the texts and information provided in the SHEM program material.”

More Areas for Continued Career Growth

Karin has been in her current position of HSE Manager for just over five years. She has trained for, and is an in-house trainer for WHMIS, confined space, fall protection, and elevating work platforms. For the foreseeable future, she anticipates “being an active member of the safety profession.” She hopes to remain at her current level, stating “I enjoy being out in the field and don’t want to find myself stuck behind a desk,” she said.

As for her future, Karin is confident in the instruction she has received with UFred. She is looking at starting her MBA and has also expressed interest in completing the Ergonomics Certificate programs.