My Story: Cora Alexander, ASP
I found my passion for health and safety really early on. I attended Rutgers University in New Jersey for my B.S. and master’s in public health, graduating in 2017. After changing my major – not officially, but in my head – about 20 times in my first two years, I finally settled on public health because I wanted to be an epidemiologist.
As an undergraduate student, I was required to complete a summer internship. After meeting with my advisor, she instructed me to pick any public health internship because there weren’t too many options in epidemiology. After reviewing the options, I decided to apply for an internship with the Middlesex County (NJ) Public Health Department in the Environmental Health Division. I had NO experience or education in environmental health, so I thought, “Why not try something completely new?”
My internship focused on water pollution prevention and control, and I discovered my love for environmental health. I ended up interning for a second semester, and then was hired part time while I was finishing up school.
At this point, I decided I liked environmental health just a little bit more than I liked epidemiology (although I still LOVE epidemiology). I was already a declared epidemiology major in the master’s program and had completed a lot of that required coursework, so I decided to pick up environmental and occupational health/safety as a second major. This was my first introduction to health and safety.
When I began taking health and safety classes, I knew EHS was the career for me. My favorite course was industrial hygiene, and this class is how my career began. I was made aware of an EHS internship with L’Oréal at an administrative site in New Jersey. I applied and got the job!
During the course of the yearlong internship, I learned so much about EHS and about the values of L’Oréal. I knew I wanted to stay with the company after my internship and, lucky for me, a position opened up at the North Little Rock (AR) manufacturing plant. I’m currently a safety manager at the plant and have been here for just over three years. I work with a great team, both at the site and corporate level, and have been able to really grow as a safety professional. My responsibilities focus on industrial hygiene, ergonomics, and health and well-being, but I’m involved in many other safety projects and roles.
My favorite part of my job is the people. I love being able to interact with people across all departments, shifts, backgrounds, experience levels, etc., and their safety is just as important to me as my safety or the safety of my family. I’m really looking forward to what the future holds!
Cora Alexander, ASP
North Little Rock, AR