My Story: D. Kevin Earp
The “My Story” section of the May 2018 issue of Safety+Health featured three safety professionals’ stories, and, to my surprise, all three resembled mine to some degree. One received a bachelor’s degree in sport management, as I did, and went back to school to get a degree in safety management. Another had worked as a safety trainee at a federal prison; I, too, worked at a federal prison as a safety intern during graduate school. And the other safety professional obtained his master’s in safety from West Virginia University, also my alma mater.
Fred Rine, a WVU graduate, the founder of FDR Safety and a former vice president at the National Safety Council, suggested safety as a career for me more than 30 years ago. At the time, I was a marginal student at best and graduate school seemed out of reach. But after working as a work-study student for George Nedeff in the WVU athletic department, he offered me a graduate assistantship to pursue a master’s. I sometimes would run laps with George on the WVU track and his colleague, Dr. Daniel Della-Giustina, who also happened to be the chair of the safety studies department at WVU. To this day, I know “Della” probably took pity on me and admitted me to the graduate program despite my undergraduate grades being subpar.
I have never forgotten those three individuals who steered me toward a safety career and gave me the opportunities I needed to succeed. If not for those relationships and encouragement, I sometimes wonder what my future would have held. So, “to pay it forward,” I created an internship program in Charlotte, NC, for college kids pursuing a career in safety. We eventually even hired one of our past interns as a full-time EHS specialist.
I encourage every safety professional reading this to also pay it forward and promote a career in safety to someone you may know and provide him or her with an opportunity to succeed. One day you may be part of their story.
D. Kevin Earp, MS, ARM, CSP, CSSM
Director of Safety, Environmental Health & Risk Management