An Evolving Workforce.

Author:London, Adam

I am a sanitarian because of the powerful influence of two amazing women: my mother and grandmother. My mother has been a registered nurse since I was very young. She is retired now, but that changes very little. She is, and always will be, a nurse. It's not merely something she did for a paycheck; it became part the fabric of her identity. Caring for her patients, family, and everyone around her is central to who she is. This sense of vocation made a very powerful impact on me. I could see the joy of doing something that truly matters. I could also see the incredible force for good that this amazing professional woman projected onto the world around her. What higher calling could there be than serving other people? She has always inspired me to serve others.

Pursuing a career that could become a vocation was very important to me as I entered Ferris State University as a biology major. I did not really know what I wanted to be, but it needed to feed my love for science and the desire to make a difference in the world. At one point during my sophomore year, I became frustrated by the ambiguous career opportunities awaiting biology graduates. In a moment of doubt, I even considered transferring into the business school! It was my ever-wise grandmother who knocked some sense into me and said, "You need to get into that environmental health program like your uncle Bobby did!" She then proceeded--without my knowledge--to call faculty in Ferris State University's environmental health program and enlisted them to rescue me from my academic limbo. Within a week I was officially a student in the only accredited environmental health undergraduate program in Michigan at that time.

I will always owe a debt of gratitude to these two incredible women for steering me toward this noble profession. I know that many of you were inspired by strong women in your own lives. The environmental health profession has blessed all of us with innumerable opportunities, but it is not often an easy career path. As all of you know too well, environmental health is demanding and challenging work. It was especially difficult for me when I was a young, inexperienced sanitarian. Let's face it, a portion of the world loathes the fact that regulators even exist. I know that the young women in our profession have it harder yet. The additional challenges presented by sexism and harassment are intolerable and something we all need to recognize and reject. We have an obligation to...

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