Emergencies can come in many forms, from a burst pipe that causes a flood, to a major earthquake, to a threat of violence. No matter its character, Laura Rodriguez-Mascorro will make sure the campus is ready.
Rodriguez-Mascorro joined UC Merced in September as the campus’ first emergency manager, bringing with her years of experience with the police department at CSU Stanislaus.
Rodriguez-Mascorro’s skills and knowledge made her the ideal person to fill the new role, said UC Merced Chief of Police Chou Her.
“She has a background in educational emergency management,” Her said. “She also has an ability to connect with people, to communicate, and a willingness to learn and to do things that may be a little unconventional.
“All of that is important because the emergency manager needs to be able to innovate.”
Rodriguez-Mascorro moved to Livingston as a teenager, after spending her early years in San Diego County. She attended Merced College and Stanislaus State, where she studied international business.
She joined the staff at her alma mater as a program coordinator for the Migrant Education Program, encouraging students to participate in STEM academies and taking on responsibilities for risk assessments and emergency planning for related activities. Later, she moved to the campus police department, where she was responsible for the development and oversight of the emergency management program and served in various leadership roles in the CSU system.
“I’ve always been interested in helping people,” she said. “Whether it was with the Migrant Education Program or helping foster youth students, I’ve always been focused on helping people.
“To me, it’s always been about guiding people to know they can do better if they prepare themselves.”
Rodriguez-Mascorro said life happened to give her the opportunities to learn about emergency management and steer her in that direction.
“The stars aligned for me to get here.”
"Emergencies can happen anywhere. I want everyone to know what their role would be and how they should respond in advance."
As emergency manager at UC Merced, Rodriguez-Mascorro coordinates all of the moving pieces that need to come together to respond to a crisis, from communication among campus leaders to organizing responses from government agencies across Merced County.
“Her job is to shepherd it and to make sure everything works well together, so we have a unified response plan versus separate pieces of the puzzle,” Her said.
The role is an essential part of UC Merced’s growth. As the campus expands, Rodriguez-Mascorro will ensure that emergency planning happens for every building, every division and every department.
“It’s part of an ongoing effort to build a culture of preparedness,” Her said. “Our goal is to make sure that, at the very least, every person on campus knows that we have a program in place. If something happens, there’s going to be an organized approach on how we respond to it and how we recover from it.”
As part of UC Merced’s effort to prepare, the campus community is invited to attend either of two workshops on the Emergency Management Plan being held on Dec. 12.
A morning workshop will take place from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. and an afternoon workshop will be offered from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Both will be held in the California Room. The workshops are open to all students, faculty and staff. Registration can be completed online and walk-ins also will be welcomed.
Her said the workshop is an opportunity for campus community members to understand their roles and learn about emergency planning and response.
“Emergency management is not a one-person responsibility,” Her said. “It’s a campus-wide responsibility.”
Rodriguez-Mascorro says it’s important for everyone to be empowered to know how to respond.
“I want to be able to help my community by providing them with training opportunities such as drills, workshops and basic life support,” she said.
“Emergencies can happen anywhere. I want everyone to know what their role would be and how they should respond in advance. We encourage our community to take advantage of all emergency preparedness training opportunities.”