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Resilient Immaculata University Emergency Planning and Management Student Earns National Award

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Lilly Evasew, an emergency planning and management (EPM) major at Immaculata University, recently received the General Carl A. Spaatz Award, which is presented to cadets of the Civil Air Patrol (CAP) who have demonstrated excellence in leadership, character, fitness and aerospace education. With only 1% of cadets earning the honor, it is the organization’s highest award.

At 13 years old, Evasew joined the CAP’s cadet program, which is an auxiliary program funded through the U.S. Air Force. It typically takes five years to complete the three basic CAP missions that include skills in leadership, character and aerospace. After mastering each skill set, Evasew progressed in rank, with a total of 16 rank promotions in the process of earning the Spaatz Award.

Three people in uniform at awards presentation

Lilly Evasew at the awards presentation.

In addition to the core skills, cadets can focus on an area of interest. Evasew chose emergency services and began training in search and rescue exercises. At only 21 years old, she is now a skills evaluator for their search and rescue missions and the assistant emergency services officer for the Philadelphia region. Although the positions are volunteer, she appreciates the opportunities CAP has given her, and she is eager to give back to guide others.

Evasew understands the importance of guidance. When her high school career counselor discovered that she had not applied to college, she talked to her and suggested a possible career in emergency management. When Evasew started researching programs, she was impressed that Immaculata’s Emergency Planning and Management degree was certified through FEMA, which was different from most of the other programs she was considering, and she enrolled in the program. As an EPM major at Immaculata University, Evasew found the perfect match for her interests and career focus. What’s more, her courses are all online, which fits her busy work and volunteer schedule.

Evasew has also been working as a team leader for Pennsylvania’s Keystone State Challenge Academy, a 24-7 residential facility for at-risk 15 to 19-year-olds who have dropped out of high school or are behind on their studies. She noted that many of the students she works with often come from broken homes with few role models. Her job is supervising, teaching soft skills, leading and correcting behavior.

The work of Evasew and the Academy staff can be life changing. She gave the example of one student who ran away the first week. She noted the progress he has made since returning and was proud to point out that he now seeks out an adult to talk to. “I’ve been that person for him. I talked to him for 45 minutes the other day about vulnerability and how to be a friend because he’s never been taught,” she said.

After taking a trauma class for her EPM program, Evasew learned about adverse childhood experiences. The lessons were important because she works with children who are struggling. Connecting the classroom material to what she’s doing at work is helpful as she can see, verbalize and use that knowledge to reach the students.

As a younger person, Evasew has learned to earn the respect of her peers and supervisors, who are often surprised by her age. “Often times when they’re guessing, they’re guessing 26 or 28, and when I tell them I’m 20–recently turned 21–they looked at me and are like ‘no way,’” she said. She understands that success is all about how a person responds to life’s circumstances.

She has the respect of her Immaculata professors as George Schwartz, Ed.D., assistant professor of leadership, noted, “Lillian is an exemplar of the great students that we have in the EPM program: she is working full-time and going to school full-time, but still makes time to serve in the Civil Air Patrol. Lillian’s excellence is also being recognized through her induction into the Order of Sword & Shield honor society this year.”

With her skills, training and experience, Evasew wants to pursue a job within the emergency management field doing training or community outreach or becoming an operations section chief.

“Emergency management is people-oriented,” she noted. “I enjoyed the risk. It’s a big puzzle of where things go operationally, safety, risk management–all the different factors going into helping people and where resources need to be.”


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