Angel Ocegueda, Fall 2020, Outstanding Graduate, Interdisciplinary Programs, Public Service, Emergency Management, Homeland Security, Watts College, Arizona State University

Grad to build on background working with those experiencing homelessness with degree in emergency management

By

Mark J. Scarp

Editor's note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable fall 2020 graduates.

When you are undertaking a degree program with “homeland security” in its name, you learn quite a bit about vulnerabilities in society.

Angel Ocegueda, the Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions' interdisciplinary programs fall 2020 Outstanding Graduate, said his studies revealed several points where technological advances, while providing so many convenient services, also potentially leave much private information exposed.

“We as a society are very dependent on our phones, computers, emails, video chat services and other devices. There are many cyber-threats out there,” said Ocegueda, a sergeant in the United States Marine Corps Reserve who is receiving a Master of Arts degree in emergency management and homeland security.

“If we do not pay attention and take care of our devices, we can leave ourselves exposed to our data getting compromised,” he said. “Personally, I have taken the necessary steps to do the little things, such as not using the same passwords and not opening links that I do not recognize, among other things to keep my family safe.”

Ocegueda, who has a Bachelor of Science degree in criminology and criminal justice from ASU, has worked for five years as a case manager for A New Leaf, a Phoenix-area nonprofit social service agency. Ocegueda said he mostly works with those experiencing homelessness, helping to provide resources for his clients, connecting them to needed services and helping them navigate the legal system.

The San Tan Valley resident said he chose to remain at ASU to earn his master’s degree because of the quality of education it provides.

“The academic reputation ASU has established made it easy to choose to come back for my master’s,” he said. “The availability of the program online played a part in the decision-making. I work full time, have two young kids and have military obligations, so it was important for me to be able to have access to a program that was going to provide me with flexibility.”

Read on to learn more about what Ocegueda learned during his interdisciplinary studies program:

Question: What was your “aha” moment, when you realized you wanted to study the field you majored in?

Answer:  My “aha” moment came from two different fields that have importance in my life. As a military member, I want to keep exploring ways to continue to contribute to the safety and well-being of the United States population. The homeland security part of my degree taught me about the many options I can explore and be qualified for due to my military experience. Additionally, my current job is in social services and I have developed a passion for helping people who are going through challenges. Any time there is a natural disaster, I wish I could do more to help those affected, which is where studying emergency management comes in.

Q: Which professor(s) taught you the most important lesson(s) while at ASU?

A: The professor that taught me the most important lesson was Anthony Cox. In his integrated emergency management class, he talked about the importance of being able to work with multiple agencies to develop plans when emergencies occur. Those same concepts can be applied to any job out there. There is a high likelihood that most end up working with other departments, companies and even co-workers. Knowing what each entity does and how they contribute to the workplace is important to be able to do the job properly.

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school?

A: The best piece of advice is to be mindful about time management. It is likely that students have multiple responsibilities while working on their degree. Being able to dedicate time to each is going to help the student find a balance that works for them and be able to succeed at each task.  

Q: What was your favorite spot for power studying?

A: As an online student, the only place I was able to power study was my living room. Due to COVID-19 there weren’t many places I could go and focus on school work.

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: I plan on continuing to work with my current employer helping the homeless population. However, I will begin my search for employment in my field of study in hopes of getting in somewhere and learning. Additionally, I will continue with my Marine Corps Reserve responsibilities for as long as I can.

Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle?

A: The one problem would be the displacement of families and children. All around the world, families are forced to leave their home countries due to conflict. They end up in an unknown place asking for help. Families often live in unfavorable conditions and are faced with a tough decision: Either go back to their tumultuous countries, or continue to find a new place to live and keep their family safe, with no real timeline on how long that would take. $40 million would not be enough to help everyone, but it would at least provide some kind of food, shelter, medical care and other services needed until they find new, safe places to live.