Left-right, Kim Snyder, grants management section chief of Indiana Department of Homeland Security; Janice Hart, director of Howard County EMA; Kori Wood, scholarship recipient; Theresa Murphy, vice chancellor for Student Success for Ivy Tech Kokomo; Michael Holsapple, Homeland Security/Public Safety program chair; and Bryan Langley, IDHS executive director.                                                 Photo Provided
Left-right, Kim Snyder, grants management section chief of Indiana Department of Homeland Security; Janice Hart, director of Howard County EMA; Kori Wood, scholarship recipient; Theresa Murphy, vice chancellor for Student Success for Ivy Tech Kokomo; Michael Holsapple, Homeland Security/Public Safety program chair; and Bryan Langley, IDHS executive director. Photo Provided

KOKOMO, Ind. — The director of Indiana’s Department of Homeland Security, Bryan Langley, knows the importance of recognizing the extensive service volunteers provide in responding to public emergencies – natural and manmade. He knows how important it is to recruit those volunteers and he knows how important it is to train those volunteers.

Langley recently demonstrated his commitment to volunteers by traveling to the Kokomo Campus of Ivy Tech Community College to honor student Kori Wood, a Kokomo native who is one of 13 Indiana students who received a scholarship this year from the Indiana Homeland Security Foundation.
“Kori will be a leader in our community in the future,” Langley said in a meeting to congratulate her on the scholarship award. “Her character and her leadership is what you want to honor.”

The Homeland Security Foundation Scholarship is available to students who are pursuing a degree in a safety- or health-related major at an Indiana college and who has volunteer experience at a public safety agency such as a police or fire department, emergency medical service, or emergency management agency. The funding for these scholarships was provided through purchases of “Secure Indiana” license plates.

Wood, who is working toward an associate degree in Homeland Security at Ivy Tech, also has been honored for her service as a volunteer with the Howard County Emergency Management Agency.

Janice Hart, director of the Howard County EMA, called Wood “totally amazing.” 

“Kori is known for her initiative and her drive,” Hart said. A leader in the EMA’s communication department, Wood handles all of the organization’s social media and, when emergencies like the August 2016 tornado hit, she’s the one who handles dispatching of volunteers to areas of need. 

“She’s a standout in every organization or agency she’s involved in. She puts her heart and soul in everything she does,” Hart added. The Howard County EMA presented Wood its “Recognition of Determination and Dedication Award” in 2017 in honor of her first year as a volunteer.

Faculty members in the Homeland Security/Public Safety program at Ivy Tech Kokomo seconded the glowing assessments of Wood, noting her commitment to her studies. “Kori is the Homeland Security poster child for students with a commitment to succeed and overcome any and all obstacles,” said Michael Holsapple, director of the Homeland Security/Public Safety program for Ivy Tech Kokomo. “She has whatever ‘that’ is that helps a student succeed – the hunger, drive, perseverance that I wish we could bottle.”

Wood, whose college experience was interrupted by more than a decade of work at zoos and animal research labs and then medical issues, has been very active since she returned to Ivy Tech in 2017. A graduate of Ivy Tech’s Student Leadership Academy, Wood is secretary of the Student Government Association, a member of the Homeland Security Program Advisory Council, and a student ambassador. She has been recognized for her academic achievement with membership in Phi Theta Kappa academic honor society. She also is active in the American Heart Association and maintains a daily exercise regimen at the Kokomo Family YMCA that includes walking a mile, biking two miles, and swimming a mile. 

Wood credits a number of Ivy Tech faculty and staff members for contributing to her success. “I want to thank Ivy Tech so much for working with me through all my health issues,” she said.

A chance encounter with Howard County EMA activities in the summer of 2016 as a guest of a friend turned into Wood’s new professional passion.

“Never in a million years would I have thought this is where I would end up,” Wood said. “Why emergency management? Helping people. Being involved in different community events. There’s always something going on … and it’s one big family of volunteers and I love that.” 

Wood, 33 and the mother of a 10-year-old daughter, expects to complete her degree in December and hopes to turn her volunteer experience in emergency management into a career.

For information on Ivy Tech’s Homeland Security/Public Safety program, contact program chair Michael Holsapple at mholsapple@ivytech.edu or 765-252-5200.