My Story: Rebecca Cross
When I was a child, my mother would read bedtime stories to me every night. They were not, however, typical children’s literature. She’d read magazines or encyclopedia articles, or whatever she happened to be interested in at the time. When I was about 7, she read to me an article about elephant poaching. I became irate – as only a 7-year-old could – and stomped around for days being angry about the state of these poor creatures. I think she was finally at her wits’ end when she suggested that I write a letter to my congressman and tell him about my objections to elephant poaching.
So I wrote a strongly worded letter. It was scathing, trust me. Then I mailed it. Imagine my surprise when, a few weeks later, a handwritten response arrived, congratulating me on my enthusiasm and suggesting that someday I would like to have a career in the environmental field.
And that was it, folks. After that, I was going to have a job in EHS, save the elephants and, by extension, the world.
It obviously didn’t go quite as 7-year-old me would have envisioned. I majored in environmental management and, after college, started working as an environmental consultant, doing a little bit of everything, including groundwater remediation, working with the military, Phase I ESAs, spill cleanup, NEPA documentation, asbestos, ISO certification, etc. You name it, I would give it a whirl. I had developed something of a jack-of-all-trades reputation when a consulting company needed someone to take on the office safety program. Because I hadn’t had the opportunity to save any elephants, I decided that I would try saving people.
I am incredibly glad I took that step. I’ve since moved from consulting to manufacturing, and am employed as an EHS specialist for a pharmaceutical company. There’s always something new to learn in this field. One of my favorite things about the job is the ability to work with people from all different backgrounds and the looks on their faces when you can tell they really get it. This job has a unique opportunity to make the working world just a little bit better and a little bit safer. It’s hard, and the bad days are, well, let’s just go with bad. But the good days make it all worth it.
And in case you were wondering, yes, I still have that letter.