By Sonya D. Lavett
Adam Reed is a champion for safety. After serving for a decade in law enforcement and ensuring public safety for his Tennessee community, Reed decided it was time to switch gears and approach safety from an occupational frame of mind.
Reed had an excellent career in law enforcement, starting back in 2004 while he was in his twenties. His family is mostly made up of military and fire service professionals, neither of which appealed to him at a very young age. As a boy, Reed recalls wanting to grow up and do something important like keep his family and his community safe.
“I always had an interest in some aspect of safety. I decided to get out of law enforcement though in 2014, due to the current state of our world and society. It just seemed like a good thing to do at the time with a young family. I have a family member who works in the oil field. After a year of considering it, I jumped into safety and now work on an oil rig. I had spent almost a decade of my life in public safety. This seemed like a good transition. Within my first week of being out there, one of my colleagues pointed me to CSU. He was finishing up his master’s degree in occupational safety and health.”
As the 2016 Safety Scholarship Award recipient, Reed will be able to complete his B.S. in occupational safety and health without having to worry about the financial aspect of completing his studies. Student loans are often necessary in today’s economic structure in order to invest in one’s education, but the responsibility of having to pay back what was borrowed can be a heavy burden for any family. At least in this case, Reed’s remaining tuition is covered.
“My ultimate goal of course is to make sure I can provide for my family,” Reed stated.
It is of the utmost importance to Reed that his children see him working toward something and achieving an education that will move him higher up in his career. “Changing careers, I’ve learned that if you work hard, you can do this. You can advance further and go places you want to go. This is a great lesson for my children.”
Reed is creating his own path as to where he wants to take this. Training, supervising and directing. Five years from now, he hopes to be on the faculty list for CSU teaching safety health standards. “My goal is to be in a position working directly with students.”
His goals tie in nicely with his favorite things: helping his community and teaching. The first on his list, of course, would be his family.
If doing a complete 180 on his career isn’t convincing of his ability to get things done, Reed shared a story about one of his favorite projects while serving as a policeman.
“The community I was serving was only about nine square miles, a very close-knit town. Everyone knew everyone. Most considered our town like Mayberry, and people thought, nothing ever happens here.”
“We noticed an increase in burglaries. At the time, there was no watch group because no one ever thought that is was needed. Once crime started to creep in, I decided to do some research and look into it. On top of a 60-hour work schedule, I took this on because I wanted to. I took this to my supervisors and said, ‘can we do something?’ I just needed people involved. Within 30 days, we had our first neighborhood watch meeting. Fewer than ten people came to the meeting. By the second meeting, everyone in the community had rallied and showed up, mostly thanks to one specific community member who helped me organize the group and stayed involved. By the time I left the department after about four years, we had six or seven community watch programs running simultaneously. The community just ran with it.”
Reed reflects on his approach in fostering community involvement. “I can give the guidance, but you have to want to do it.”
As far as advice to Reed’s fellow CSU students and alumni, he shared this perspective: “The best advice I’ve received from someone is this: the harder it gets, the harder you have to keep going. Don’t ever stop. Especially if you have children, teach them to never quit. When things get difficult, the more resilient you have to be. Just like I tell my kids, ‘toughen up, cupcake.’”