NSC Honors 2023 Women in Safety Scholarship Winners

Recipients were honored at the NSC Safety Congress & Expo In New Orleans

The National Safety Council is proud to honor this year’s Women in Safety Scholarship winners. This $5,000 scholarship, renewable for up to four years, helps support women pursuing safety as a career and promotes safety as a career path for women studying business or engineering. Five scholars were selected.

Learn more about this opportunity.

Women in Safety Scholarship Winners

Brie Birkenbuel: Montana Technological University, Butte
Major: Occupational Safety and Health and Industrial Hygiene
Brie is a junior and expects to graduate in May 2025

Helping others has been a passion of Brie’s for quite some time. She is excited for a career in OSH for both professional growth and to help save people’s lives on a daily basis.

In her application, Brie shared what safety issues are most important to her: “Throughout history, safety issues have evolved and changed. With our ever-changing technology, new safety risks are born. While workplace safety has remained a prevalent issue, companies must now worry about at-home workplaces and related issues. The ergonomic and mental health safety issues for remote workers raise concerns because they can lead to more significant and widespread issues in the future. These are imminent issues that must be addressed culturally. As a future safety professional, I feel blessed to be able to contribute to the solution to improve safety for remote workers.”

Madelyn Hackney: Murray State University, Murray, Kentucky
Major: Occupational Health and Safety
Madelyn is currently a senior and expects to graduate in May 2024

Madelyn is passionate about pursuing a career in the safety field because of tragic losses her family has suffered due to a lack of workplace safety. She has a strong drive to help prevent other families from unnecessary tragedy.

Madelyn shared why she thinks mental health is one of the most important safety topics: “Creating a work environment that supports each worker, breaks down stigmas, and makes it easier to talk about mental health are important ways to stop the rise of suicide and mental health problems in the construction industry. This problem is not something that can be solved overnight. It will take a lot of work from employers and employees, but the changes could help save lives.”

Lisa Markey: Athens State University, Athens, Alabama
Major: Occupational Health and Safety Management
Lisa is currently a junior and expects to graduate in December 2024

With her background in human resources, Lisa is passionate about educating employees on safe work practices because she understands the impact that workplace injuries can have on employees, their families and the employer.

Lisa shared what she believes is an important safety issue today: “Overcoming the stigma of mental health issues in the workplace continues to be a challenge. When organizations strive to provide an environment where employees feel safe and secure when performing work, they are happier and more engaged. The company also benefits from engaged employees with enhanced productivity, higher quality goods and services, and improved employee morale and teamwork.”

Kayla Michalowski: Elgin Community College, Elgin, Illiniois
Major: Nursing (RN)
Kayla is in her second year of study and expects to graduate in May 2024

Kayla was inspired by hospital staff keeping her father safe when she was a child and has a dream to provide the safest and best care for other families as a nurse.

In her application, Kayla shared why she is passionate about becoming a nurse: “I knew nursing school would be a long, arduous journey, but I was determined to accomplish my goal of working in the healthcare field. I love going to hospitals for clinicals because I get to work alongside nurses and see patients. Unfortunately, getting better is not always the outcome that people see.  Some people do not recover, and if that is the inevitable outcome, I want to provide the safest and best care while they are in the hospital.”

Karena O’Bryan: Murray State University, Murray, Kentucky
Major: Occupational Health and Safety 
Karena expects to graduate with her master’s degree in December 2024

Karena has a goal of becoming a successful, contributing woman in the safety field. She knows that women are underrepresented as safety leaders but an important asset, and she wants to be a part of the change.

In her application, Karena shared why safety is important to her: “I want for employees of the company I will be working for to be able to go to work knowing that they are taken care of, knowing that their employer cares about their safety. I want them to be able to go home without worrying about having to return to an unsafe place of work the next day. No one should ever have to feel unsafe at work.”

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