May 14, 2024 1:41 pm

In 2015, Shontieka Adeogun was a student at Clover Park Technical College studying nursing. She’d already finished earning her GED from CPTC but was starting to feel like nursing wasn’t for her. That’s when she was introduced to Pierce College’s emergency management program.  

“When I started in emergency management, I had no idea my career would end up where it is now,” Adeogun said. “I thought I'd be a planner in the background, doing exercises here and there, but my career has taken off.”  

Adeogun is now the chief emergency management program officer for the City of Tacoma. She is responsible for the day-to-day management of disaster preparation and coordination, organizes dozens of departments and hundreds of people to best prepare the city and its partners for disruptive events. Her job is not only about disaster management, but also about preparing for day-to-day emergencies.

In 2018, Adeogun was the very first graduate of Pierce College’s Bachelor of Applied Science in Emergency Management program.

“When I started going back to school, I had no idea that I would want to continue my education,” Adeogun said. “I knew I couldn’t keep working menial jobs, but I was in my late twenties and considering going back to school – I thought I would be too old.”

Adeogun says now that she’s started her career, she is constantly looking for opportunities to educate herself further – such as certification programs, and, maybe one day, a master's degree.  

At Pierce College, Adeogun said she got essential hands-on experience and training as a student that prepared her for a successful career as an emergency manager. Just a few months into her internship with Thurston County Emergency Management, Adeogun got to experience Cascadia Rising 2016 – a joint national-level exercise held in Olympia to evaluate FEMA’s coordinated response plan to a massive Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake and resulting tsunami.  

During Cascadia Rising 2016, Adeogun – then in her first year of classes at Pierce College – got to be in the Thurston County Emergency Operation Center, surrounded by professionals from state, city and national groups.  

“It opened up my eyes to my new reality that this would be what my life would be like if I did this career,” Adeogun said. “It also opened my eyes to the impact events like this could have.”  

Adeogun said that the staff and faculty at Pierce College were essential to her success as a student. From the Pierce College grant writer who first introduced her to the emergency management program, to the professors who were willing and ready to support her even if she wasn’t a part of their program.  

“Pierce College gave me a start that I never thought I would have in my life,” Adeogun said. “When I didn’t believe in myself there were people who believed in me. At Pierce, I never felt like I was behind.”

One professor who had an impact on Adeogun was emergency management department chair Sarah Miller, who said Shontieka “epitomizes what this profession should be.”  

“Sarah took the time to have a conversation with me about why she graded my papers the way she did and what she was looking for from me,” Adeogun said. “If I didn’t have that, I wouldn’t have grown as a student. She made me a better student.”  

On advice for future students, Adeogun said to take advantage of all the hands-on opportunities at Pierce College.

“I never would have seen what I could be if I hadn’t started at Pierce College,” Adeogun said. “You may not see it yet, but dreams do start here, and they’ve started here for a lot of students.”

The Emergency Management program at Pierce accepts applications on a rolling basis and students can begin at any time. Whether you are interested in making this your first career or transitioning from an existing job, the program at Pierce is focused on giving you real skills and experience that will help you find a job.