The Charger Blog

Graduate Student “Took Advantage of Every Possible Opportunity” at the University of New Haven

From founding a professional organization chapter at the University of New Haven to volunteering, Israel Estrada ’19 M.S., a graduate of the University’s emergency management program, found opportunities to learn, network, and grow.

February 7, 2019

By Renee Chmiel, Office of Marketing and Communications

Image of Israel Estrada '19 M.S.
Israel Estrada '19 M.S. is now the executive director for the Natural Hazard Mitigation Association, a nonprofit organization.

For Israel Estrada ’19 M.S., getting his master’s degree was an important goal, but it was not without its challenges. His drive to succeed as a graduate student began, literally, with a drive – across the country. Determined not to miss any of his classes, Estrada drove to West Haven from Los Angeles in less than four days.

Upon arriving in a state where he did not yet know anyone and without housing secured, he slept in his vehicle for his first few nights. Estrada persevered, and he says his move across the country was worth it.

"My experiences as a student crystalized my determination to become a professional in the field of emergency management,” said Estrada, who accepted his master’s degree at the University’s 2018 Winter Commencement. "One of the best opportunities I had was serving as a graduate assistant in the emergency management department, which allowed me to concentrate full-time on my studies and on growing as a professional.”

The founder of the International Association of Emergency Managers (IAEM) chapter at the University, Estrada served as its first president. As a member of the organization, he represented the University at conferences and was eventually named IAEM’s National Student of the Year in 2018.

"My experiences as a student crystalized my determination to become a professional in the field of emergency management.”Israel Estrada ’19 M.S.

"Though it’s been a lot of work, it is something I was proud to be a part of, and I hope that the organization continues,” Estrada said.

In addition to his studies, Estrada volunteered with Team Rubicon, supporting the recovery efforts following Hurricane Harvey in Texas. He gained firsthand knowledge of the work that has to be done in a disaster zone. He also participated in training at the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho, where he became a wildland firefighter.

A participant in a pilot program for veterans in the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey’s Office of Emergency Management, Estrada was chosen to be a part of the John D. Solomon Fellowship for Public Service, the first student fellowship in New York City devoted specifically to emergency management.

Shortly before he graduated from the University, he accepted a position as the executive director for the Natural Hazard Mitigation Association, a nonprofit organization transitioning from an all-volunteer management system to a paid part-time staff, which he is now overseeing.

"Eventually, I plan to pursue my doctorate in emergency management,” Estrada said. "I believe that will give me more credibility as I conduct research, serve as a professor, and continue responding to emergencies and disasters throughout the world.”