EMHS Student to Join Coast Guard

EMHS Student Rachel Busey.
Rebecca A. Eckland

This year, TMCC EMHS student Rachel Busey will cross the stage at commencement with a Bachelor of Applied Science in Emergency Management and Homeland Security in hand, but it’s only one step in her journey to become a member of the U.S. Coast Guard.  It’s a career she’s coveted from childhood when she spent summer and winter vacations at her family’s home in the Caribbean where she watched the Coast Guard boats patrol the coast. 

Busey got into TMCC’s EMHS program three years ago. “It’s a good degree to have and one that you need if you would like to have a career in the Department of Homeland Security,” she said. The EMHS program requires program applicants to have an associate’s degree as well as to have taken EMHS 200, an introductory, in-person class that is a high-level survey class of the EMHS program.  Busey arrived in the program with an Associate of Science degree. This semester, she will graduate with the BAS in EMHS as well as an Associate in Law Enforcement and an Associate of General Studies. 

The unique opportunities offered by this program have enabled her to work in for the U.S. Coast Guard at Lake Tahoe while completing a degree that is a necessary step in her goal of one day serving in Incident Management for the agency. 

Online Program Accommodates Student Schedules

TMCC’s Bachelor of Applied Science in Emergency Management and Homeland Security is an online program that covers a wide array of subjects within the field, including communications, fiscal administration, and ethics. While some online programs feel distant or impersonal, Busey said that the instructors in TMCC’s EMHS program frequently go above and beyond to make sure that is not the case. 

“The instructors in the program are really great,” said Busey. “If you call or email, they respond right away. They can also arrange to meet with you on campus, and are willing to help if you have any problems.” 

Although the program covers a wide variety of topics, Busey found every class engaging, interesting and relevant. “Even though I’m mostly interested in continuing in incident management, I was really interested in what we learned in the counter-terrorism class.”  The format of the class—which issued prompts that students would then research and respond to—enabled Busey to dive deeper into the topic based on her own research. 

Busey toured the Washoe County Emergency Operations Center as a part of a class that would ask her to set up—and solve—a disaster. “I had to come up with a plan for how I would handle boats sinking in Lake Tahoe,” she said. 

The online nature of the program enabled her to continue to work part-time and complete the program simultaneously. She admits there were a few challenging moments when several assignments for different classes shared a due date, but mostly, the program was manageable, engaging and enjoyable.

“Rachel is typical of students in the TMCC BAS-EMHS program, who are completing their education while working in the emergency management/homeland security field. Our program, which is entirely online, allows students the flexibility to complete their course assignments when their busy schedules allow”, said Jeff Whitesides, Program Coordinator for the EMHS program. “ Further, the program’s content cohesively aligns with many of their experiences at work, making course content pertinent and that much more interesting”.  “The online format of the program is affording both Nevada students as well as students from outside Nevada and  the U.S. a unique opportunity to  complete their EMHS degree.” 

A True Success Story

This year, Busey is one of thirty college students across the United States in the Coast Guard’s College Student Pre-Commissioning Initiative (CSPI) program. The scholarship program funds two full years of college and requires that Busey complete basic training after she graduates and guarantees commission in the Coast Guard. 

As a part of the requirements for this program, Busey works a minimum of 16 hours a month for the U.S. Coast Guard station at Lake Tahoe.  “After graduation on May 20, I’ll start the Coast Guard officer candidate school on May 26,” she said. Following the 17-week training program, Busey will receive a commission as an ensign (0-1) and an assignment in the field. 

For students who are interested in learning more, Busey encourages them to take EMHS 200,  the introductory, in-person course. “You’ll need to take it anyway for the degree program, and you’ll encounter all the topics the program will cover.” 

The program also offers a unique opportunity to pursue a Master’s degree thanks to an articulation agreement with the University of Alaska, Fairbanks that waives out-of-state tuition for graduates of TMCC’s program. That’s a step Busey is planning on taking, too, after she receives her commission.

“The EMHS program and faculty are proud of Ms. Busey’s accomplishment of her degree and her upcoming commission in the Coast Guard. This is a prime example of why we created this degree track and made it an online delivery, so our students can either continue their careers already underway or get the work experience they need as Rachel has, to begin her dream career.” – Darryl Cleveland, Director of TMCC Public Safety. 

For more information about TMCC’s Bachelor of Science in Emergency Management and Homeland Security, contact the department at 775-336-4270.