The Charger Blog

Emergency Management Program Prepares Grad Student to be on the Frontlines of Response to COVID-19

From a national security major to an EMT to a graduate student in emergency management, Victoria Fedak ’19, ’21 M.S. is ready to apply what she has learned to help a local health district respond to the coronavirus pandemic.

December 4, 2020

By Erin Cuomo ’20, Office of Marketing and Communications

Victoria Fedak, '19, '21 M.S.
Victoria Fedak, '19, '21 M.S.

In the spring, when COVID-19 arrived in the United States, Victoria Fedak ’19, ’21 M.S. had been a certified EMT for only a few months.

"I was working evenings and nights, and we used to get notifications if we transported COVID patients on 911 calls," she said. "The moment I got my first notification that my patient tested positive was when it all hit me."

While juggling the stresses of the pandemic, in addition to working toward a master’s degree in emergency management, Fedak says that her professors and everyone in the emergency management program were incredibly supportive and understanding.

"A lot of my peers worked in fire departments and EMS as well, so we all dealt with it together," she said. "When my dad got COVID, my professors were so understanding, and the program offered a great support system."

'The University has been a huge part of my life'

Throughout her studies as a graduate student, Fedak, who earned a bachelor’s degree in national security, started to believe that there needs to be a systematic change in the way pandemics are handled now and in the future. Fedak is confident that she and her classmates are inspired to make that change come to life.

"I actually took a course on pandemic management, which I think helped everyone realize that emergency management isn’t just hurricanes and tornadoes," she said. "It covers so much more. "We were able to look at past pandemics and widespread illness and realize that very little has changed in the way that governments handle these sorts of things."

Fedak will have a chance to help shepherd the change she believes is necessary, as she recently was named the public health emergency preparedness coordinator for the Quinnipiac Valley Health District. She is now assisting with all things COVID-19 related for the district. She officially completes her degree this month, and she will participate in the University’s Virtual Winter Commencement on January 23.

"You definitely go through those times in school where you don’t always know if it’s right for you," she said. "When I got that job offer, I felt so at peace, and I knew it was worth it and meant to be."

Fedak says what turned out to be the most defining point of her grad school experience was being awarded a Provost Assistantship, which enabled her to work with the undergraduate paramedicine program as a graduate assistant. She says having that position allowed her to be a support system and to watch her students grow throughout their time in the program.

"I'll definitely miss it here," she says. "The University has been a huge part of my life for six years now, but I’m excited to step into my career."