When there’s a large natural disaster in America, award-winning UNCG alumna Jessica Haynes-Titlebaum ’14 leaps into action.
“I’m now on one of three National Incident Management Assistance Teams for FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency), as the Deputy Operations Section Chief,” she recently told us. In this role and in her earlier role as a planning section chief, she has helped bring federal and local parties together, making sure everyone has the information to save lives and bring relief as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Her UNCG experience catapulted her to this essential work. “I found the right toolbox for me – and that was anthropology,” she said. A transfer student initially drawn to psychology, the professors in UNCG Anthropology set her on her path: Donna Nash, Susan Andreatta, Art Murphy, Linda Stine. As she graduated, she entered into a FEMA Corps internship and she’s been building her skills ever since.
Hurricanes, wildfires, tornadoes, flooding – from American Samoa to Florida, she has helped relieve suffering and save lives through strategically using data and evolving technologies, understanding cultural perspectives, and leveraging optimal ways to convey information. This is all part of her job, which involves the “three C’s”: communication, collaboration, coordination. “I help others leverage what I know,” she says. “I connect folks. A lot of my toolbox came from what I learned in anthropology to build relationships.”
Those courses and her internship, building on all she’s learned before, galvanized her capabilities. “I was way more versatile than I realized.”
Earlier this year she returned to campus to receive UNCG Anthropology’s Dorothy Davis Distinguished Alumni Award and to speak with students. Her advice for them? “Don’t settle for anything. Go with what you’re passionate about. This is the study of humans! What could be more important? So much can be done with the toolbox of anthropology.”
And one more thing: “Get an internship to add on top of your classwork. It’s all about developing your career – and creating a life well-lived.”
By Mike Harris