JIBC degree helps grad find purpose and realize passion to keep communities safe

Melodie Hutmacher is now working in her dream job in emergency management after learning of the growing field and completing JIBC’s Bachelor of Emergency and Security Management Studies program.


A few years ago, Melodie Hutmacher was searching for a career where she could make a difference. She found it at the Justice Institute of British Columbia (JIBC).

Today, Melodie is working in her dream job in emergency management helping to keep communities safe. As the Regional Emergency Systems Coordinator for the Regional Emergency Management Partnership, her role is to coordinate projects on Vancouver Island that strengthen and enhance emergency plans in the Capital Regional District.

It’s a role filled with purpose: to help communities prepare, mitigate, respond and recover from all sorts of emergencies and disasters. JIBC’s Bachelor of Emergency and Security Management Studies is Canada’s first degree of its kind in this growing field that Melodie didn’t even know existed prior to visiting JIBC’s website.

“Upon reading the description for the degree, I instantly knew I had found the path I wanted to take. It was as if the write-up was speaking directly to me: this field was everything I was looking for all my adult life. I was so excited, I filled in my application that same day.”

Through the program, she developed “a great sense of being a part of something bigger. I knew that what I learned at JIBC would take me into a career that I love. And it did. The instructors and staff are knowledgeable, helpful, and engaged. They made themselves available to provide insight and perspectives on their experiences and to answer questions. It was also a wonderful opportunity to meet and learn from other students from all over the world.”

The program covers all aspects of emergency management and the education Melodie gained is used daily in her job, she said.

“If we were taught it, I use it,” she said, adding with a laugh, “Even statistics!”

While completing her JIBC studies, Melodie also took on emergency management volunteer work including serving as a rescue technician with Urban Search & Rescue for the City of Victoria where she trained to respond to major earthquakes. She also volunteered as an emergency response team supervisor with the Canadian Red Cross. That, along with her JIBC studies, led to contract work assisting with the 2016 wildfire response in Fort McMurray, Alberta, which she was able to do while completing her degree thanks to the flexibility of the program.

Melodie recommended students take on such volunteer work not only as a way to gain work experience but to help determine which of the many areas of emergency management they may want to direct their career path towards.

Since the BESMS program was launched in 2010, it has been offered exclusively online. Starting in September 2019, an on-campus offering will be available at JIBC’s New Westminster campus for students looking for a full-time program.

“I would definitely recommend JIBC’s Bachelor of Emergency and Security Management Studies to anyone interested in exploring the field of emergency management. The program opened the door to a career that I am passionate about, and one where I feel I make a difference in my community in helping to protect from, prepare for, and recover from disaster or emergency events.”


For more information on JIBC’s Bachelor of Emergency and Security Management Studies program, visit jibc.ca/BESMS.

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