Two years ago, Kalyn Chism, a recent CSU graduate with a degree in Occupational Safety and Health (OSH), posted a status in Schools App for Facebook (an online community of CSU students and graduates that promote relationship-building and networking).
Traci Snyer, an OSH professional with 30 years of experience and a self-proclaimed “lifer” when it comes to being a student, responded to Kalyn’s post. After a few back-and-forth comments, they took their conversation to private messaging within the app and realized they had more in common than just their career fields. They only lived about five hours away from each other at the time, both in Washington state.
Their communication grew to email, where Kalyn shared her resume for Traci to provide feedback. It started out as a very professional relationship, bonding over safety topics and sharing stories of different classes and assignments at CSU. Soon, Traci and Kalyn swapped phone numbers and began connecting on other topics as well.
During this time, Kalyn moved to Virginia and the friends kept in contact, growing even closer. At the American Society of Safety Engineers Safety 2015 conference, Kalyn attended but Traci did not. They continued to chat through email and text messages and when information about Safety 2016 was released, they knew that this would finally be their chance to meet.
“We just gave each other a giant hug and it was as if we had always been friends,” Kalyn said about meeting Tracy for the first time.
“It was amazing,” said Traci. “We spotted each other right away and were inseparable the whole time. It was like we’d known each other forever.”
They went to the Women In Safety Engineering meeting together, a group in which they are both members. Their colleagues who also attended the meeting thought they had always known each other.
“When we told them that this was the first time we had met face-to-face, everyone was shocked! We just clicked like life-long friends,” said Kalyn.
The two ladies spent time together throughout the remainder of the conference and also attended CSU’s networking social together, hosted by the Department of Student and Alumni Engagement.
“Sometimes you chat with people through the CSU social media pages about one post but don’t really chat again. But Traci and I have continuously stayed in touch. She’s become an unofficial mentor to me and also a very dear friend,” Kalyn said.
“I may have initially grown into a mentor for Kalyn but it really has turned into a true friendship on the other side of that,” said Traci.
Now back home in Washington and Virginia, Traci and Kalyn continue to text and email, maybe even a little more so since their meeting. Kalyn has been going on job interviews and sharing her excitement and nerves with her friend.
“I can’t wait to see her again already. We had such a good time,” said Kalyn.
“We’ll definitely see each other again. I hope it’s not another two years!” said Traci.
Traci and Kalyn are proof that while you may not be in a physical classroom surrounded by students, your time at CSU can still produce much more than a valuable degree. It can bring you valuable friendships, as well.