NSC Honors 2020 Women in Safety and Billy D. Young Memorial Scholarship Winners

Recipients were honored at the 202ONE Virtual NSC Safety Congress & Expo.

March 05, 2021

Itasca, IL – The National Safety Council is proud to honor the winners of the Women in Safety Scholarship and the Billy D. Young Memorial Scholarship. The Women in Safety Scholarship helps support women pursuing safety as a career, and promotes safety as a career path for those women studying business or engineering with a cash award of $5,000 renewable for up to four years. The Billy D. Young Memorial Scholarship, named after Billy D. Young, the first NSC Public Utilities Chair, is given to students interested in the utilities industry. It provides the winner with a $2,000 tuition award.

In 2020, seven scholars were selected to receive the Women in Safety Scholarship and one was chosen for the Billy D. Young Memorial Scholarship. Typically, recipients are honored at the National Safety Council annual Safety Congress & Expo. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, their travel was postponed until October 2021 when they will be honored in person in Orlando, Florida. 

“While we can’t celebrate these aspiring safety professionals in person just yet, we are honored to award these scholarships virtually,” said Tracey Scruggs, NSC awards and scholarship manager. “These promising young people are inspiring. We look forward to seeing their success in their studies and beyond as future safety professionals.”

Women in Safety Scholarship Winners  

Mackenzie Lofland: Oakland University, Rochester, Michigan
Major: Environmental Health and Safety

Mackenzie expects to graduate in 2022 and will pursue a career in Construction Health and Safety. 

In her application, she shared, “…in 2016, I had the opportunity to get involved with our department's Serious Injury and Fatality (SIF) Prevention initiative, and it forever changed my perspective… It was fascinating to me, and I became enticed to learn more about construction safety. A few months later, I attended my first ACIG Safety/Claims Management Workshop, where about 200 Safety Directors/Managers and Claims Professionals come together annually to learn about emerging trends, technologies, best practices and lessons learned in the construction industry. It was there that I was able to see firsthand how the Safety Professionals that I work so closely with every day are making a difference, serving as trusted safety advisors to help safeguard others. At this point, it was as if a lightbulb went off in my head, and I knew that this is what I wanted to do; what I am supposed to do. I am here, on this journey, so that someday I, too, can make a difference.”

Maria C. Kander: University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio
Major: Environmental & Industrial Hygiene

A third year, PhD student, Maria anticipates graduating in 2022 with a doctoral degree in environmental and industrial hygiene.  She hopes to gain technical and professional skills in order to limit risks associated with varied work tasks, and to provide individuals with the skills and knowledge necessary to safely perform work duties.  

In her application, she shared, “Through my efforts at NIOSH and UC, I have created the opportunity for collaborative research within the structural firefighter research field. As a second-year doctoral student, I am involved in a comprehensive study evaluating firefighters’ combustion byproduct exposures and the effect of tightening personal protective equipment around the wrist, ankles, waist, and neck, as well as the role that base layers play in these exposures. This work reflects my commitment to the health and safety of American workers, particularly those who work dangerous jobs, such as firefighters, and to my belief that assessment-based protocols can shape a healthier future for these workers so they can safely continue the important work that they do.”  

Allison Kuhns: San Juan College, Farmington, New Mexico
Major: AAS Occupational Safety, Certificate Occupational Safety

A third year student, Allison anticipates graduating in 2022, and her goal is to use her knowledge of safety and the resources provided to ensure each person returns to their family healthy and uninjured. 

She shared, “I am working for Southwest Airlines in Ground Operations. Up until this job, I have struggled to find a direction in life after high school. My first attempt at college was unsuccessful and working retail jobs was unfulfilling.  When introduced to Southwest, I was exposed to an exciting industry that allowed me to grow as a worker and pursue opportunities I would have never dreamed of.  It started when I was encouraged to join the volunteer Union’s Safety Representative team. I currently serve as the only female representative and continue to build more connections with my coworkers and members of management.  By conducting accident investigations, performing safety inspections of facilities and equipment, and attending safety meetings I have obtained the skills to recognize hazards and determine risks found in the workplace.  When I became proficient and enthusiastic with my new responsibilities, I began to consider pursuing a career in safety.”

Allison McClain: Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, New York
Major: Environmental Health and Safety

A junior, Allison expects to graduate in 2022 and pursue her passion for helping others and making a positive difference in people’s lives through a career as a safety professional.

In her application, Allison shared, “Through internships for Corning Incorporated and Kiewit Construction, I learned to connect the technical/production side to the emotions and human nature of the employees. I face safety challenges head-on, ask questions, and not shy away from implementing improvements. Yet, I am receptive, an effective communicator, and a coach.  I have learned that I am not just the safety person that is there to tell you to put your hard-hat on. I am your friend, your ally, your coach. Safety professionals carry a lot of weight on our shoulders but seeing our friends go home to what they love, well, that is why I choose this as my career.”

Katrina Fenimore: Central Washington University, Ellensburg, Washington
Major: Safety & Health Management

Katrina will graduate in June 2021 and plans to pursue career in Risk Management.  

In her application, she shared, “I am excited to pursue this career as an effort to help others. I was seeking a career change in October of 2018 when I attended the Women in Industry event at Central Washington University. This consisted of a panel of over 15 women from a variety of Occupational Safety & Health professions, all of whom were very inspiring. They shared stories of overcoming obstacles and empowerment of others. It was then that I realized that I would be a perfect fit in this industry. This inspired me to go home, do my research, and apply for the opportunity to work in the safety field. I love working with people of all different backgrounds and participating in something larger than just myself.”

Sudley Perez: Indiana State University, Terre Haute, Indiana
Major: Occupational Safety Management

Sudley, a graduate student, will graduate in May 2021 and plans to pursue a career in Occupational Safety Management in the manufacturing industry.

Sudley shared, “In recent years, I have noticed that employee safety culture across the nation has not received the attention it deserves, resulting in numerous fatal injuries. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, Latinos experienced the 2nd highest rate of these fatalities across the nation. Additionally, research performed by the Annual Review of Public Health found that many of these fatalities occurred due to language and cultural barriers but, most importantly due to unsafe working conditions – including physical hazards, environmental exposures, lack of safety standards, workplace abuse, and forced labor. As a Latina woman, I am driven and passionate about ensuring that Latino employees, as well as all those who struggle due to language barriers, understand and know their rights to a safe working environment. I hope that, in doing so, I will be making a difference in the lives of marginalized, hard-working people.”

Rubi Ramirez: Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, Baltimore, Maryland
Major: Public Health

Rubi will graduate in 2021 and plans to pursue a career in Industrial Hygiene.

In her application, Rubi shared, “I am a first generation low-income student born to immigrant parents. I am their American dream, the culmination of their hard work and sacrifice. I have the passion, the determination, and the perseverance to continue my education and I am deeply committed to safety.  I feel so passionately about occupational safety and am currently working on a research proposal concerning forklift fatalities and OSHA standards and regulation. I feel a deep need to keep learning about safety in this country, the systems we have in place to protect it, and ways in which we can improve the state of safety in the workplace. I have experienced firsthand how certain marginalized groups are even more susceptible to poor safety practices and this is frankly unacceptable. I hope to eventually work in a position that will grant me the ability to work towards ensuring that workers are being treated as fairly and carefully as the law demands and as they as human beings deserve.”

Billy D. Young Memorial Scholarship Winner

Payton D. Amend: Southeast Oklahoma State University, Durant, Oklahoma
Major: Occupational Safety and Health

Payton graduated in December 2020

Payton shared her reasons for choosing to study safety:

My father was a student at Southeastern Oklahoma State University studying Occupational Safety and Health when I was young, hearing him discuss things that he was studying piqued my interest in the field. Today, I am in the second semester of my junior year at the same university, studying and working to earn a bachelor’s degree. My major is Occupational Safety and Health with a minor in Management. My goal is to obtain a degree, then pursue a career where I can apply the knowledge I have gained to promote and ensure safety in the workplace, remove dangers and improve working conditions so workers can go home to their families at the end of their shift. I would like to work in the manufacturing industry where I will gain experience to complement the knowledge I have received. My ultimate goal is to educate employees, foster a safe and healthy work environment to protect employees, customers and any other people that might be affected in that environment. After I have had the opportunity to gain some experience, I would like to pursue a master’s degree and eventually work to develop workplace safety and educational materials, videos.

About the National Safety Council
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