Alumna Discovered Passion for the Environmental, Health and Safety Field at UF
As a freshman at UF, Eve (Burnett) Gray ’06 said that she didn’t really know what she wanted to do with her young life. “I knew that I loved science enough,” she said, “and there was science all over the place in the environmental program, so I gave it a try. And now, I’ve been in it ever since.”
Through her journey as a student in what was then known as the Environmental, Safety, and Occupational Health Management program at the University, Gray, with the helpful guidance of her professors, was able to work four different internships at Marathon Petroleum Corporation (MPC). During her first internship as an industrial hygienist, she recalled discovering a deeper meaning to her work, one that included a duty beyond simple science. “I was exposed to a lot of the people that I would be helping and I saw that the safety and industrial hygiene side of things was much more directly associated to helping people; that’s when I knew what I wanted to do. I found where I could fit in and be value added to help other people,” she said.
As much as the classrooms and coursework are important to a UF education, these “people skills” that Gray discovered early into her academic career are, in the least, of equal importance to the pursuit of a meaningful life and productive career. That was reflected at the University as well, both with her potential career path and with fellow classmates. “As an environmental student at Findlay, we didn’t just get the coursework in the classrooms and the labs, but we had the opportunity to participate in actual workplace training that is given to full-time professionals at UF’s All Hazards Training Center,” Gray explained. “And I felt that within the student body of my program there was a sense of togetherness. It felt kind of like we were a second family.”
After her time at UF as an ESOH major with an emphasis in Industrial Hygiene, Gray became a Safety Supervisor in the Logistics and Storage Terminals Organization at MPC, hired full-time in 2007. In her position at MPC, Gray leads a team of five full-time field safety professionals who are located both north of the Ohio River and east of the Mississippi River. MPC’s footprint in terminals, she said, is pretty spread out. “We have terminals that range from New York all the way down to Florida, across to the west coast out in California, and even all the way up to Alaska,” she said.
With Gray, who resides in Findlay with her husband, also an employee of MPC, and two young sons, now being an experienced leader in the field, she knows even more about what it takes to be a successful professional. “That balance between education and work experience is so incredibly important,” she said. “I love seeing a strong educational background, but it’s so important for students to balance that with as much work experience as they can get in the field.” And, as Gray’s story points out, the University of Findlay is a perfect place to start.