Leadership Studies Alumni Spotlight: Joseph Kaye

Joseph Kaye

Role: Regional Operations Manager
Industry/Sector: Waste and Recycling Services
Year graduated from Cal Poly Humboldt: 2023

Please tell us about yourself.

I have spent the last 16 years working in the solid waste industry. During that time, I have held many roles including hazardous waste inspector, fleet administrator, hauling operations manager, transfer station/compost facility operations manager, and safety manager. I’m a firm believer in safety first. Over the years, I have developed several safety programs and procedures to ensure our staff work in safe and protected environments. I believe safety is a team sport and I do my best to lead by example.

I grew up in the Coachella Valley in Southern California. I graduated from Palm Springs High School in 1997. My journey for higher learning didn’t take place until much later. In 2012, I was determined to challenge myself and enrolled in Foothill Community College as a part time student. One thing I have learned since then is that the path of higher learning is different for all of us. This is especially true for students who work or take care of family members. I’m proud to say that after seven years I earned my Associate’s degree - sociology in 2019.

I currently live in La Quinta, California, with my wife and three kids. When not working or spending time with my family, I enjoy volunteering at Find Food Bank, which provides food for those in need in the Coachella Valley.

What motivated you to enroll in the Leadership Studies program?

I took a long time looking at my options at the many great institutions in California. I decided to pursue the Leadership Studies program at Cal Poly Humboldt for several reasons. First, I found the program itself very intriguing. Being an effective leader is a universal quality that can be applied to any industry or workplace. No matter your current position, leadership tools and skills can help make you a positive change agent within your organization.

The program is designed to help working adults succeed. As a full time employee and father of three, I need flexibility within my schedule to prosper in my studies. The Leadership program is a perfect fit for me. All classes are online which allows me to study at the time that works best for me. The courses are scheduled in eight week blocks which are taken one at a time. This ensures you can focus on one class at a time while still making a steady pace toward completion.

This program offers significant value. We all know that tuition and other costs must be factored in when choosing the right program. I reviewed many programs from several schools. For me, none could match the cost to value ratio of this program. With small class sizes and personalized attention from my instructors, I’m already applying my skills to make changes in my workplace. I truly feel I’m getting a significant return on my investment.

How has the Leadership Program positively impacted your personal and/or professional life?

One of the best aspects of the Leadership program is that it focuses on the application of real world principles and skills. It doesn’t just teach you about abstract concepts that may or may not apply to you. Everything you learn can be applied directly to your current position or situation.

I was able to start applying these new skills and knowledge right away. We all have ideas of how to make our workplaces more efficient or safer. The challenge is developing an effective program to implement these ideas. This program provides the information needed to make small and big changes. I have already become far more effective at creating positive changes in my workplace. 

What are your goals after completing the Leadership Studies degree program?

My primary goal is to continue to apply these skills to make my workplace as safe and efficient as possible. I hope these positive improvements will encourage my organization to give me more responsibilities so that I can become an even greater asset. 

What do you think people who are considering this program should know before they start?  Any advice for prospective students? 

This program can be challenging. You aren’t just memorizing facts and filling in bubbles on test sheets. You are going to be asked to think critically and deeply. You will need to be committed and organized in order to succeed.

With that in mind, the program is also extremely supportive. Betsy Rogers, who is the academic advisor, has been a pleasure to work with. She has been patient and helpful through my journey. She is quick to respond to student’s needs. The instructors are excellent and bring a wealth of real world business knowledge with them. They are thoughtful, considerate, and attentive to your needs. The program is also cohort based. This means that you will have many of the same students in all of your classes. This creates a sense of community within the program. Students are eager to share knowledge and help others who are struggling. You never feel alone within this program.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

Choosing a higher learning institution to invest in can be a daunting one. Take your time, ask lots of questions, and look at your options carefully. I’m confident I made the right choice with the Leadership Studies Program and Cal Poly Humboldt. I wish you all the best of luck in your pursuit of knowledge.