Anushka Thota had never heard of Sugar Land’s Office of Emergency Management before the department presented to her and 32 other high school juniors participating in the City’s Mayor Youth Advisory Council.
The Office of Emergency Management (OEM) presented how they coordinate preparedness, mitigation, response, and recovery efforts between City departments, residents, and surrounding communities.
Thota, a rising senior at Dulles High School, was fascinated.
“One of the biggest benefits of joining MYAC was seeing the impact local government has on different resident experiences,” Thota said. “I had no idea there was so much prep that goes into different events, like the City’s 4th of July Celebration, Red, White, and Boom. It was really eye-opening to see how OEM has a hand in public safety within our community.”
Before joining the MYAC program, Thota wasn’t aware of how involved city departments, including OEM, were in the community. Now, she had a first-hand glimpse of a possible career track she’d never thought of.
“I knew kind of immediately I wanted to get involved with OEM in some way,” Thota said.
Sugar Land’s interim emergency management administrator, Caroline Egan, saw her potential immediately. When Thota reached out about a possible summer internship opportunity, getting her involved with the team was a no-brainer.
“The fact that she reached out and wanted to know more was exciting,” Egan said. “Working with us, she’s really able to see that her desire to become a doctor and to still be involved in local government and emergency management can be married up in a career in public health.”
Thota said working as the OEM intern opened doors to career paths she hadn’t considered in the past. Due to her experience with the Office of Emergency Management, Thota narrowed down a college major – public health.
“I’m able to see hands-on how different things work in real life,” Thota said. “I’m learning the importance of building connections and keeping them. In high school, they teach you that it is what you know in terms of knowledge. And while that’s important, it can only take you so far. Seeing that come into play in my life professionally is an eye-opening thing for me.”
Egan said it is important for the City to continue to pipe in fresh, local talent that can take Sugar Land to the next level.
“If there’s any way that we can interest young minds in all aspects of government in order to get them working and involved, it’s up to us to foster that, especially for young women,” Egan said. “Our government workers need to be reflective of our communities, and this is our way of fostering that. In a way, we’re starting to train and interest our future workforce. I think we’re going to see that as our older folks and institutional knowledge retire, we need to have folks waiting in the wings to keep our city viable and relatable.”
Thota said she knows her experience interning for the Office of Emergency Management has changed her trajectory.
“A big part in emergency management is that you trust in what you plan,” Thota said. “You have to trust it and things will work out. That’s how I feel about this opportunity.”
Know a high school junior who wants to learn about local government? MYAC applications open August 21. For more information, visit www.sugarlandtx.gov/MYAC.