Anna Maria College alums are out in the world making a difference and saving lives every day. Our faculty empowers students to be trained professionals who can handle whatever comes their way. We are excited to highlight some of our female alums who are diversifying the emergency management landscape and paving a way for other future female first responders.

Annette Nance Holt earned her MPA in 2019 and is now the Fire Commissioner for the City of Chicago.

Why did you choose Anna Maria? I chose Anna Maria because of the curriculum that was offered. Before making the final decision to attend, I took my time and investigated many other universities. My main goal was to find a college that provided classes related to Fire and Emergency services and a schedule that would fit my demanding workload. Working so many hours, I found it easier to attend classes online. However, I must confess I had never taken classes online toward a degree and was a little intimidated. However, the platform, classes, and mostly the professors were great and responsive. It made the transition extremely easy.

How has your Anna Maria education impacted your career? Having a master’s degree was extremely helpful in my advancement within my department. It also gave me the skills and knowledge needed to approach a position that I hadn’t held before. It gave me the confidence to pursue it knowing that with what I learned, I was more than qualified and prepared to take on this leadership role in the greatest fire department in the world.

What advice would you give to other women entering your field? Besides having hands-on practical skills, it is crucial to have an advanced educational background if you strive to be in a leadership role. Being in a major department like Chicago helped me immensely with leadership and navigating roads untraveled. Have a mentor or someone that you can reach out to because being the Chief of a department can be lonely. Invest in yourself and be prepared for that next move before it presents itself!

Linda Waldron ‘25 is a firefighter on the Brookline Fire Department who is earning her Bachelor’s in Fire Science.

Why did you choose Anna Maria? Academic quality when it comes to Fire Science and affordability.

How has your Anna Maria education impacted your career? Anna Maria impacted my career by furthering my education in fire science which helped make me a better firefighter.

What advice would you give to other women entering your field? My advice to other women is to never stop learning and training, always leave a positive footprint wherever you go.

Pamela Garant is the Deputy Fire Chief of Lakeville Fire Department who earned her Master of Health Emergency Management in 2022.

Why did you choose Anna Maria? Anna Maria’s high academic reputation was one factor in my decision to attend this college. I have been fortunate to have a long career in emergency services working as a firefighter/paramedic and officer. At the time, I was transitioning into a leadership role as deputy chief and pursuing a master’s in management seemed the next logical step. The Health Emergency Management degree was the perfect program to blend all my interests. The flexibility of the hybrid model curriculum allowed me to do a full-time job while completing my studies. Anna Maria was the perfect fit for me and the whole experience exceeded my expectations.

How has your Anna Maria education impacted your career? Anna Maria has certainly had a positive impact on my career. I received valuable subject matter expertise and guidance from instructors such as Dr. Gregory Ciottone, Professor Doug Brown, and Professor Eugene Elliott. Anna Maria undoubtedly helped improve my proficiency navigating information, managing time, and personal goal setting. These learned skills are vital in any field but are particularly important in the dynamic field of emergency management.

The HEM coursework and simulations afforded me the opportunity to network with other goal-oriented students as we expanded our critical knowledge, skills, and abilities. The program also emphasized the concept of building coalitions, community resilience, hazard analysis and mitigation. I believe this program gave me a tremendous foundation to navigate the complexities of real-world challenges.

What advice would you give to other women entering your field? First and foremost, I would tell others to believe in yourself, embrace challenges and change. Life has its trials and tribulations, try to keep things into perspective, develop resiliency and maintain a positive outlook. Most importantly, I encourage women in this field to always be their authentic self and move toward your goals.

Sergeant Katherine Mungovan Hurley of the MA State Police graduated from Anna Maria with her Criminal Justice degree in 2005.

Why did you choose Anna Maria? I chose Anna Maria College because of the criminal justice program, location, and being able to play multiple sports. In 2001, Anna Maria was recognized as a great criminal justice program in the state and was a Quinn Bill certified college. The location was ideal because I’m from Worcester and I could go home anytime I needed to do laundry, eat, and see my family. Along with my family being able to attend and support me in the sports I played there. I love playing basketball and softball. Anna Maria gave me the opportunity to keep playing both on a very competitive level.

How has your Anna Maria education impacted your career? Anna Maria impacted my career because the professors drew from their personal experiences of being a police officer during lessons. Their first-hand knowledge helped me understand the material. The faculty and academic advisor helped me secure an internship at the Massachusetts State Police (MSP) Academy during my senior year. This had a huge impact on my life. I met many State Troopers who helped me prepare academically and physically to meet the State Police Academy standards. I was also able to see various units within the MSP during ride alongs with a trooper in field such as the marine unit and EVOC. Anna Maria helped me build my resume by hiring me as a part-time campus officer where I worked security for the college during school breaks. I also became a part-time dispatcher at Holden Police Department and Paxton Police Department in my junior and senior years. Lastly, playing on the basketball and softball teams helped me be a leader and a team player, which are skills I use every day. As a Sergeant I am guiding the troopers below me in understanding their job, how to handle situations, and giving them the tools they need to succeed in their careers. Being a State Trooper, it takes all of us working as a team to keep each other safe in order to make sure we are all going home at the end of each shift.

What advice would you give to other women entering your field? Start building your resume with the connections you make at Anna Maria. Don’t wait till you graduate to start in on your career. Find a part-time job in your career field or something that relates to it. Try and narrow down what specifically you want to do by exploring different experiences. Ask questions, take the time to shadow as many people as you can to see what their jobs entail and start building your resume while at Anna Maria College. I personally felt it was important to learn how to dispatch at a police department. You could be hired at 18 to dispatch but not be a police officer till your 21 years old. I wanted to understand both sides of the radio. I knew right away dispatching was not my lifelong career, but it made me a better police officer because I knew what information my dispatchers needed from me at incidents and how busy it gets inside the center. Dispatching helped me build confidence in talking on the radio and learning radio etiquette.

Assistant Fire Chief Shelly L. Carter from the Hampden Fire Department in Connecticut graduated with her MPA from Anna Maria in 2020.

Why did you choose Anna Maria? I heard about Anna Maria by overhearing a conversation between two other firefighters and decided to look into it. When I called to ask about the program and how long it would take to obtain my degree, it felt like a good fit for me. I am a busy mom of five amazing sons, a professional, and a wife. My schedule at school could not impact all of the many things that I had going on in my life. Anna Maria’s online program, instructors and staff were extremely supportive and accommodating. I am very happy to be an Alumni of Anna Maria.

How has your Anna Maria education impacted your career? Because of the degree I received from Anna Maria, my career has been on an upward trajectory. I’ve reached milestones in my career that I didn’t think were possible. As a firefighter and now Fire Chief, leadership and education are extremely important. Being appointed as the first and current only black female fire chief in New England was a hurdle to climb. I knew I had leadership capabilities, but I needed to educate myself to be able to compete, but more importantly stand out in the processes. Having my degree has made that part of my leadership skills easy.

What advice would you give to other women entering your field? Block out the outside noise and the inside noise that says to you that you can’t reach your goals. Fear and doubt are hindrances that will try and stop you but push past your fears. Realize how strong you are and keep pushing. Find support where you can find it. I’m blessed to have support from my family and my friends. Seek out groups of people who have similar goals to you and lean on each other. Celebrate small victories and learn from defeats. Show yourself some grace and know that starting school is the hardest part, once you start it’s not so bad. And finally, pat yourself on the back, you deserve it!