Working the Work-Integrated Program

WilmU’s Environmental Science and Policy program was the right fit. Ray’s state benefits included some tuition reimbursement and she’s earning college credit on the job while learning more about HazMat procedures and policies.

Christie Ray

Marjorie Crofts, the Division of Waste & Hazardous Substances director for the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC), was concerned that some of her colleagues would retire in five years. So she asked colleague Christie Ray if she’d consider going back to school.

“I was like, ‘financially, not really,’” says Ray, who, after doing some research, found WilmU and realized it was an affordable option. “So Marjorie asked if I’d go back to school and consider something environmental, and that’s what I did.”

Ray, who works as an Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act support specialist at DNREC’s HazMat Response Dover office, was already equipped with an associate degree in Emergency Management and Homeland Defense from Delaware Technical Community College. She had years of experience as an EMT and possessed significant knowledge in environmental compliance.

Which is why WilmU’s Environmental Science and Policy program was the right fit. Ray’s state benefits included some tuition reimbursement and she’s earning college credit on the job while learning more about HazMat procedures and policies. She can reflect on that experience through WilmU’s Work-Integrated Learning program.

“I think Marjorie saw something in me; that want, that go-go-go, because I don’t stop ever,” says Ray. “I get very upset when I get a B.”

She chose an environmental career, she says, because “I wanted to get a state job so I would have retirement. I didn’t care who I worked for, whether it was DNREC or DelDOT. I wanted a state job. I’ve been an EMT for 15 years. I paid big money for insurance and it didn’t cover anything. So, I just got to this point where I wanted to get a state job. The timing was right.”

Ray is an administrative specialist, yet she can operate a forklift, drive the Emergency Response trucks, and confirm that her division’s HazMat-certified employees have everything they need. The division responds to emergencies and oversees more than 2,000 Delaware businesses that use and/or store hazardous substances.

“It’s so much more than just computer and paper for us,” says Ray. “You’ll never find any admins like us in any other department — and we are proud of that experience.”

—Chris Knauss


Chris Knauss is a co-op coordinator and Communications instructor for WilmU’s College of Arts & Sciences.