Graham School News

Students in Cohort 13 Bring Wealth of Professional Experience to Master of Science in Threat and Response Management

Philip Baker

Cohort 13 of UChicago's Master of Science in Threat and Response Management started classes at the Gleacher Center on October 2, 2019, bringing a group of professionals with diverse experience and a variety of backgrounds together for their intensive two-year study of emergency management.

Drawing students from California to New York, the newest cohort includes recent college graduates as well as professionals in the second or third decade of their careers, while still others are looking to acquire tools and skillsets that will help with the next steps of their career. 

Anne Kiplinger, for instance, started her career with the CME Group over two decades ago, having received her undergraduate degree in economics. After recently taking on a new position there in business continuity, she saw the UChicago's program as a great way to bring her up to speed. 

“It’s a new position for me,” says Anne. “The program will not only be a good way to learn more about the area but also to bolster what we have in place at the company. I’m excited to learn some tools that will help me build out my new role.”

Marian Rodriguez, by contrast, has spent her career preparing and responding to emergencies. After six years in the US Navy, she began her career in the Chicago Police Department in 2005. When she completed her BA this past spring from DePaul, she was eager to pursue another degree that might lay the groundwork for her next step after retiring from the police department.

“Public safety has been a passion of mine since grammar school,” Marian says. “I know there’s a high demand for these valuable skills and that they’ll offer me a great way to contribute to the civilian sector when I retire.”

With a background in financial consulting, Chris Kreis began looking at higher education options at UChicago as a way to take his career in a new direction. He saw the Master of Science in Threat and Response Management as a great way to apply his corporate experience in modeling and planning to disaster relief.

“I got interested in the degree because I wanted to bring my private sector skillsets into the public domain,” Chris says. “The program provided opportunities that were in alignment with those goals. Right now I’m interested in going into a financial reporting position with an agency like FEMA or Homeland Security.”

Based in Rosedale, California, Alex Schubeck has worked in emergency management since 2009, holding a variety of positions in healthcare emergency management, public health preparedness, and city emergency management. Currently a city emergency manager, he saw UChicago’s Master of Science in Threat and Response Management as an excellent way not only to expand his knowledge—he hopes to pursue his PhD after graduating—but also to learn from top leaders in the field.

“Ultimately, I’d like to teach,” Alex says. “Teaching, doing research, and at the same time staying a practitioner in the field is my ideal goal at the local and county level. I like the action of going out on the calls.”

Valary Lewis comes to the program having spent her career working in insurance. She’s created and managed risk management programs for public utilities, municipalities, and religious organizations. 

“My focus is on enterprise risk management and business continuity and improving corporate fiscal wellness,” she says. “The MScTRM program will give me the skills to provide comprehensive risk management solutions covering everything from crisis response and management for organizations.” 

Garrett McCarthy first learned about the program from colleagues at the Chicago Fire Department, where he now works as a Fire-Paramedic. Having worked full-time in emergency medical services while in college, he’d also committed himself during those years to growing a clothing startup, which took him to New York after he graduated in 2013.

“I worked at an international clothing brand for eight months before deciding I’d rather work as a paramedic for the city,” he says. “After four years in New York, Chicago Fire Department offered me an opportunity to move home. I’m looking forward to gaining a broader perspective on emergencies in the this program, one that will contrast with the micro view I take on a daily basis.”

In the end, a broader perspective on emergencies will be one that everyone in the thirteenth cohort will gain. As they spend the next two years learning from some of the leading practitioners in the field of emergency management, students will also have the opportunity to gain a wealth of knowledge and perspective from their cohort peers. They will also have the opportunity to make connections and establish friendships that will last well into the future.