November 30, 2015 9:30AM
Graduation can often be bittersweet for university students, as the start of their careers can mean separation from longtime classmates and friends.
For five recent Pittsburg State grads, however, the start of their careers meant even more time together.
College of Technology graduates Kyle Lang, Peter Polizzi, Scott Thompson, Aaron Weaver and Brian Welch have all been hired by the Kansas Department of Labor over the past three years. Each graduated from Pitt State with a degree in environmental and safety management.
“It is an amazing and unique opportunity to be able to continue the friendships we formed as students in our everyday work lives and after work lives,” said Welch, who works at the KDOL as a safety consultant. “I feel that we have been able to fast forward years because we understand each other’s strengths that we learned from the classes we attended together.”
Lang, a safety supervisor at KDOL, said working alongside four fellow Gorillas has enhanced the work environment.
“We have all taken classes together, and have had many late night study groups at the Technology Center while pursuing our degrees in safety,” he said. “Working together has not only brought us closer as fellow employees, but has created a stronger family type atmosphere along the way.”
Thompson, who attended Pitt State specifically for the environmental and safety management program, works as a safety specialist/consultant. He said knowing other PSU grads worked at KDOL influenced his decision to also sign on.
“All of us were a close knit group of guys when we attended PSU and I feel like that helps improve our team here at the KDOL,” he said. “It really made me feel comfortable signing on with KDOL knowing that I already knew a portion of the individuals I would be working with.”
Polizzi, who works as both private and public safety consultant with KDOL, said the working relationship the graduates established at Pitt State has carried over into the professional world.
“It's a pretty awesome experience,” he said. “You have these people in class and you kind of get to know them and learn how they work as a team, but you don't think they'll be a part of your life for the long term. I think that past experience we share makes us work better together than if we were all strangers.”
When Pittsburg State launched the environmental and safety management degree in the fall of 2013, it became the first Kansas university to offer a safety-specific degree.
The graduates now working at KDOL credit the program and the faculty for their professional success.
“The faculty and resources at PSU really helped me get my confidence level high enough to be able to promote myself and the skills I had and were developing,” Polizzi said. “I'm still amazed at just how much of the material covered in the safety program applies to what I'm doing."
Thompson added, “If it wasn’t for the ESM program at PSU, I don’t think I would be where I am today.”
For information on the environmental and safety management program, visit http://www.pittstate.edu/department/construction/degree-programs/environmental-and-safety-management.dot.