Alumni Spotlight: Elyzabeth Estrada '14

Elyzabeth Estrada '14 (BS Criminal Justice)

Elyzabeth Estrada '14 (BS Criminal Justice)

Support Specialist, Miami-Dade County Office of Emergency Management | Miami, Florida

Hurricanes. Mass-shootings. Disease outbreaks. Nuclear power disasters. It's the job of the Miami-Dade County Office of Emergency Management (OEM) to prepare for these scenarios. Which means it's the job of people like Elyzabeth Estrada '14.

Specifically, Estrada works on a program called the Emergency Evacuation Assistance Program, which ensures that local residents who need storm-time assistance — whether they’re blind, or bed-bound, or they rely on dialysis machines — can get to a safe and secure place before a storm hits. Estrada helps educate citizens about the program and works with the transportation providers who make it happen.

When she first started at Johnson & Wales, she was interested in a career as an FBI agent. But then, during a class on cyber security and terrorism in her junior year, she learned about emergency-response work. Her interest in the field turned into an internship with the Miami-Dade OEM, which turned into a post-college job she “completely loves.” By now, she’s fluent in emergency-ese and quick to ring off facts like the dates of South Florida's hurricane season (June 1 to November 30).

Someday, she says she’d love to move to another major city to work on snowstorm or earthquake preparedness/response, and after that, perhaps work as a director of security for a major university. But, for now, she says, “Every day I get excited to come to work. I’m learning something new.”

Among the lessons she’s learned?

While people often associate disaster-response with national offices like Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), in reality, she notes, “All emergencies happen on a local level first.”

This profile originally appeared in the Spring 2016 edition of JWU Magazine.