Safety Course Comes to University Center
Opportunities to study safety have increased in southern Oklahoma.
Southeastern Oklahoma State University is offering one of its largest programs – occupational safety and health – at its Ardmore campus at the University Center of Southern Oklahoma.
“We’re trying to meet the needs of the community,” said Dr. Robin Plumb, Southeastern director of academic services at UC.
On the Durant campus, the safety program has more than 300 students majoring in the subject, almost 80 bachelor’s and master’s graduates annually, and more than 500 students enrolled in the department’s courses.
Now, all except the final two courses required for a Bachelor of Science degree in the major can be completed on the Ardmore campus.
UC first offered safety courses during the spring 2012 semester, which saw eight students in the introductory course. The following fall, it increased to 12 students, and spring courses reached the maximum 15 students. The summer course has a waiting list, “It’s very popular,” Plumb said. “We haven’t had to do much recruiting for it. So far, it’s been all word of mouth.”
Students can begin taking safety courses at any stage of their academic career, whether they are just starting their college coursework, already working on a bachelor’s or associate degree, or completed an associate and looking to earn a bachelor’s.
Two courses in the major are offered back-to-back on the same night. Course offerings rotate so students will earn their degree. Also, an introductory course is being offered during the summer term.
Courses have a maximum of 15 to 20 students each semester.Once students have earned the Bachelor of Science, they can continue their studies with a Master of Science through Southeastern. The master’s degree program is offered primarily online, so it too can be completed in Ardmore.
Matt Oglesby, a Dickson High School alumnus, will graduate with a bachelor’s in safety in May 2014.
“It’s pretty interesting, and the professors are all really good,” he said.After wondering from several different programs and schools, Oglesby found a program he enjoyed with the safety major.“It’s a pretty rapidly growing field,” he said. “I’m interested in the oilfield, and I’ve seen lots of drilling around here. There is a good job market.”
While his passion for the field might have led him to commute to Durant for courses, he is glad for the convenience of courses in Ardmore. He is also considering a master’s degree, which he can also complete locally. “If I can get into the program, I can work and pursue my master’s at the same time,” Oglesby said.
Ashley Carranza of Springer is currently the UC receptionist and will begin taking safety courses in the fall.“I chose safety because I can get in with any company in the future,” she said. “There will always be a need.” Carranza earned an associate degree from Murray State College in Ardmore and now plans to earn a bachelor’s, majoring in safety and minoring in environmental science. Her goal is to have a career in water quality.
The new opportunity to study in Ardmore allows students to not have as long a commute and maintain full-time jobs.“I would not have taken it (safety), had it not been offered here,” Carranza said. “Just two classes a semester will take a little longer, but not having a full schedule is good for me because I work full time.”