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‘We have all had to adapt in different ways’: An environmental health alumna’s work in the time of coronavirus

Kelsey Fiddes '12

Kelsey Fiddes '12

As environmental, health, and safety manager for Caterpillar in Mapleton, Kelsey Fiddes ’12 has played a large role in helping her company navigate the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“It has been difficult to shift priorities so quickly from my typical responsibilities to COVID-19 related work, but we have all had to adapt in different ways,” said Fiddes. “I have been fortunate to work alongside a team of individuals that make it happen!”

Fiddes and her colleagues worked to create a health strategy for their facility, implemented through a one-week Rapid Improvement Workshop (RIW). The RIW team focused on disinfection mitigation, interaction, setting individual responsibility expectations, and communications.

As an essential worker, Fiddes has still been working on-site when needed but notes that it’s been interesting to see the transition to working from home. “I appreciate that we still have the ability to continue to stay connected. I look forward to seeing a shift in mindset and culture, making flexible work arrangements more acceptable.”

Fiddes wasn’t sure what to major in when she started at Illinois State University. “I knew that I was passionate about helping people and sustainability. My advisor directed me to environmental health, and she was spot on. The professors were fantastic, the coursework was interesting and challenging, and my classmates became my friends.”

The professional fit turned out to be spot-on, as well: “I have found the same thing with the EHS community within my company! Everyone shares the same care for people and the environment, which is unique.”

Think environmental health might be the major for you? Learn more here.