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Accident Inspires Student to Change Course

March 3, 2017
Staying safe: Morgan Cantlin
Staying safe: Morgan Cantlin

Junior Morgan Cantlin doesn’t dwell on the life-changing car accident after her first semester at Keene State College, but the memories persist. Returning to school from Enfield, New Hampshire, after the winter break two years ago, she decided to seek refuge from a treacherous freezing rainstorm by spending the night parked in a rest area off the highway. Fast asleep, she was awakened when her parked car was struck by an out-of-control box truck. “They had to cut me out of the car and transport me to the hospital,” recalls Cantlin, who suffered a broken collarbone and several other injuries in the accident.

Upbeat and optimistic about her future, Cantlin changed her major and career direction. “I was originally a psychology major, but decided to change to safety and occupational health applied sciences after the accident,” said Cantlin. “The person who hit me was probably on a tight work schedule trying to get his shipment somewhere. Maybe the combination of his schedule and the poor road conditions led to the accident? It started me thinking about safety standards and the rules of the road.” 

Cantlin is motivated by her personal injury and hopes to help prevent similar accidents from happening to other people. “My classes and professors like Jeffrey Morel and Lonna Blais have been amazing,” said Cantlin, who is looking forward to starting her career in the safety field after she graduates.

Blais, who worked 21 years for OSHA, feels Cantlin has the drive and determination to make a difference in the field. “Morgan certainly has the safety bug,” said Blais. “She goes above and beyond with all her projects and is very engaging in class.” In turn, Cantlin likes the fact that her professors bring their real-world experience into the classroom. “Instead of teaching us from a book, they teach us from their experiences,” she said.

A stellar dean’s list student and member of the American Society of Safety Engineers’ (ASSE) Women in Safety Engineering (WISE) Common Interest Group, Cantlin has also made inroads physically. After years away from the slopes, she joined the Keene State ski club. “When I graduate, I want the best of both worlds,” she said. “I want to move out West and work as a safety manager for a company and also ski.”