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Masters of Disaster panel helps Georgia State students understand disaster awareness

Although some call it “the greatest hoax ever,” global climate change, according to the North Atlanta Treaty Organization, is happening and is going to continue.

“It’s the nature of the beast,” Colonel Gill B. Williams said. “We saw [natural disasters] in Haiti, Chile and japan… they’re going to happen.”

Williams was part of a panel of disaster relief leaders educating Georgia State students on disaster awareness and how students can build a career out of helping others.

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Also in attendance were Atlanta Fire and Rescue, Georgia Emergency Management Agency, American Red Cross and the National Guard.

“I am a public policy major here at GSU and would really like to get involved,” Marvin Dixon, a recent public policy graduate said. “[but] I don’t know the proper procedures to get started.”

Michael lee of the Red Cross said students can first start by signing up for the free online volunteer programs like the online Georgia Certified Emergency program, or the free public safety classes offered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Leah Hoffacker of Georgia Emergency Management Agency encouraged students to visit GHA911.org, a website devoted to disaster news, aid and preparedness.

Volunteer work and training services completed, students can then take staff positions in places like the National Guard, GEMA, FEMA and the U.N.

“[Climate change] is very real,” Carrietta Butts, of University Career Services said. “And if [students] are going to pick a job like this, they need to know what the job will entail.”

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In 2011, tornadoes ravaged the University of Alabama where students were evacuated to neighboring counties, those that survived the wreckage helped find others missing in the rubble. A year later, multiple tornadoes tore through Brooklyn New York and neighboring cities and states, leaving thousands of students and their families homeless.

Currently, students at Georgia State are still recovering from the effects of the 2012 drought that just last year, hit them with a full-on summer heat wave.

According to the U.S. Drought monitor, Georgia still remains abnormally dry, increasing the risks of wildfires.

Butts, from Missouri, believes in showing more than telling, one of the reasons she brought in these panelists today. She wants her students to witness the first-hand, real-life experiences of professionals like Michael Lee and Leah Hoffacker so they can be more aware of what they want to do after college.