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ULM alum helps in Texas recovery after Hurricane Harvey

Published Sept. 20, 2017

Hurricane Harvey recently devastated much of the Texas Gulf Coast. Thousands of emergency personnel and volunteers from across the country reached out to help residents recover from the storm.

One of those was University of Louisiana Monroe alumnus Caleb Smith.

Smith earned his bachelor’s degree in Political Science in 2014. In May 2017, he graduated with a Master of Public Administration. In the months before his graduation, Smith secured a job with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and was stationed in Dallas.

As an Emergency Management Specialist, Smith assists those impacted by disasters. He checks their paperwork, looks at insurance documentation, and ensures there is no duplication or fraud.

When Hurricane Harvey hit, Smith joined a team that developed a training simulation tool for new case workers. With an estimated 9,400 new temporary and local employees to be hired to assist those impacted by Hurricane Harvey, FEMA needed to turn its four-week training session into a three-day course. Armed with his MPA degree, Smith was brought in to help create scenarios that new case workers would likely face and script possible responses.

Smith acknowledges that his MPA degree from ULM has helped him on the job. Supervisors noticed his advanced degree and thought the skills he developed through his studies would be helpful in this situation. Smith points out that the critical thinking skills he developed in the program have also been an asset. Although the simulation program rolled out on Labor Day in five locations, the team is continuing to improve it and make it as real as possible.

“A goal of the MPA program is to provide students with the skills needed to improve their communities,” said Leigh Hersey, Assistant Professor and MPA Coordinator. “We are grateful for Mr. Smith’s service during this time of need in Texas.”