James Schultz says STC has prepared him for the next phase of his career as a firefighter
Student of the Week: James Schultz
Out of college for nearly 30 years, James Schultz says returning to South Texas College was the right choice as he looks ahead to the next stage of his career as a firefighter in McAllen.
Currently an assistant fire chief with the McAllen Fire Department, James said he returned to STC when he took a required EMT class at STC’s Nursing and Allied Health campus in 2010. He began studying for his degree in fire science the following summer in 2011 after being out of school for more than 30 years.
He received his degree in fire science from STC in May 2016 and then continued with his bachelor degree in Organizational Leadership, which he plans to receive this December.
“Getting back into it was kind of a challenge,” James said. “I realized I needed to further my education to really support what I was doing as the assistant chief.”
“I never really took the SAT when I was in high school,” he said. “I went straight into the workforce and at the time I never really saw college in my future. It has been a fun experience, going back to school on my terms instead of anybody telling me.”
Graduating high school in San Antonio, James says he moved to the Valley in 1990 and was among the first attendees of STC when it opened in 1993.
He became a volunteer firefighter with the City of Edinburg in 1991, and when McAllen began hiring, he became a paid firefighter in 1993.
“I know what I want to do, and I’m doing this because I want to better prepare myself,” James said. “I am very focused on what I need to do.”
Now James says he works 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day, gets home in time for dinner with his family, and then gets to studying.
“I know what I want to do, and I’m doing this because I want to better prepare myself,” James said. “I very focused on what I need to do.”
The Bachelor’s Degree in Organizational Leadership at STC is the first competency-based bachelor's degree from a Texas public institution that helps students develop vital skills for the workplace. The degree focuses on skills that will help prepare you for a position of leadership in business, government, non-profit, or educational organizations.
Looking ahead, James said his goal is to become prepared to take over duties as fire chief once the current chief retires.
“I want to better prepare myself to be ready when he leaves so in the event that the city is willing to appoint me as its fire chief,” James said. “My next goal is to become fire chief for the City of McAllen.”