Mahea Villanueva, a 2016 graduate of Honolulu Community College’s (HonCC) Occupational and Environmental Safety and Management (OESM) program, returned to her alma mater to share her personal and professional experiences with current students back in November of last year.

Villanueva is currently the Division Safety & Health Manager at Abhe & Svoboda, Inc. a full-service restoration contractor in Honolulu where she manages workplace safety and health program for the company. Her job includes ensuring workers’ safety and preventing work-related injuries and illnesses.

Villanueva’s presentation was part of a November 2018 employers’ workshop for current OESM students. The presentation, which featured safety professionals, provided the students with professional perspectives on soft skills needed for a successful career. The workshop was followed by mock job interviews between the guest employers and the OESM students.

During her presentation, Villanueva shared the personal and professional journey she went through as a student, a working single mother, and a job seeker with minimal safety work experiences. She also described her responsibilities at Abhe & Svoboda.

One key item that she wanted students to walk away with was that if others believed in you, you should believe in yourself as well. “Believing in yourself is really big. A lot of times we do not give ourselves enough credit for what we are capable of doing and what we can learn.”

In addition to supporting her children in their extracurricular activities, Villanueva volunteers with the Hawaiʻi chapter of American Society of Safety Professionals (ASSP) as its Secretary.

Watch Villanueva’s presentation to hear her story.