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Amanda Murray headed to officer training in July 2013 for the U.S. Navy where she landed a job protecting the occupational health and safety of servicemembers. She was excited to begin her career after earning a bachelor’s degree in community health and a master’s degree in work environment.
Like many other young college students, Murray wasn't sure what she wanted to study when she was a freshman. She transferred to UMass Lowell from Framingham State after one semester and has never regretted her decision.
“There were so many different paths to take at UMass Lowell and I think that’s what drew me in most,” says Murray.
She started out in
clinical laboratory sciences
and then moved to community health, where faculty involvement helped guide her, providing internship opportunities in her area of interest: occupational and environmental health.
“If you showed the community health faculty that you cared about what they were teaching, they would make sure you were pursuing the opportunities necessary to get the experience you needed for your future,” says Murray.
Her undergraduate internships and service-learning projects were extensive – presenting hazardous waste training for The New England Consortium, researching exposures of workers to silica dust and noise for the Occupational Health Internship Program at UMass Lowell and assessing hazardous materials use at Saint’s Medical Center. As a graduate student, Amanda worked as a research assistant conducting air sampling and field studies of occupational exposures to silica among construction workers as part of the Construction Occupational Health Program in Work Environment.
It’s this experience that helped her land an occupational health job – called an Industrial Hygiene Officer – with the Navy.
She says: “I've been doing my research assistantship for the entirety of my master’s study. I think that I probably have a lot more real-world experience than most going into my field, which is a huge advantage. From my various internships, work study and service learning projects, I've been able to practice what I've learned in my classes and add to that knowledge.”
Murray says she’s grateful that her experiences took her out of her comfort zone and challenged her: “I've been put in situations where I’m not fully comfortable but I really believe that’s when you learn the most and that’s why I continue to put myself in those types of situations.”
In her new job, she is working at the Naval Safety and Environmental Training Center in Norfolk, Va.
“I’m extremely excited!” she says. “I know that this position with the Navy is a huge step toward my future, and I can confidently say that I owe it all to my real-world experiences at UMass Lowell, and to my family and friends who supported me through it.”