South Texas College graduates 30th Fire Academy
South Texas College commemorated the completion of one more outstanding Fire Academy with the graduation of eleven cadets who received their firefighter certificates in a significant ceremony joined by friends and family at the Regional Center for Public Safety Excellence.
South Texas College commemorated the completion of their 30th Fire Academy with the graduation of 11 cadets who received their firefighter certificates in a ceremony joined by friends and family on Friday night at the Regional Center for Public Safety Excellence.
“We look forward to seeing them out on the field doing a great job for this community, we’re proud of these young men and we’re excited for their futures,” said Victor Valdez, program chair for STC’s Public Safety programs.
STC’s 30th Fire Academy marked the first occasion that long-time partner city of Pharr, contributed to the training of the students. Representatives from the Pharr Fire Department were in attendance.
“You’ve taken the first step in joining one of the oldest and most prestigious jobs in the world. Wherever you go, take pride and ownership of what it takes to be a firefighter,” said keynote speaker, Battalion Chief of the Pharr Fire Department Sergio Vazquez. “Rain or shine, our job never stops. You’ll find the courage to refer back to your training to overcome anything that chaos throws at you. I’m proud of all of you, as you receive this certificate. You will be joining a brotherhood and you will be expected to act and carry yourself as your brother’s keeper, and with that, let me be the first one to welcome you.”
For graduate Ryan Bulthuis, STC’s Fire Academy represented a unique opportunity to prove his skill for the job and is now the first firefighter in his family.
“This is a huge accomplishment for me, I came in knowing nothing about the fire service and now look at me. I was just looking for a place where I would be able to serve my community and put others before myself, that’s why I wanted to join the fire service,” he said. “Now I will become the very first firefighter in the family, I’m ready to start my journey.”
We look forward to seeing them out on the field doing a great job for this community, we’re proud of these young men and we’re excited for their futures
Graduate Eloy Zamorano, son of a long-time firefighter, grew up around the fire service community, but still found new experiences and tools at STC that will help him keep moving his career foward. He plans to return to STC for an associate degree in Fire Science.
“I’ve always wanted to get a degree in Fire Science, and pursue a career as a firefighter that’s why I came to STC. I’ve learned so much here, even though I’ve been familiar with the fire world my whole life,” he said. “One of my favorite parts of our training was having Pharr come help us, it was truly eye-opening. I also want to thank our instructors for their continued efforts on us learning through hands-on activities; learning how to cut metal for rescue, the fire simulators and burning house scenarios were a highlight for me.”
STC Fire Academy Instructors Oscar Rodriguez and Victor Fonseca showed their appreciation for the cadets and reminisced on their growth as firefighters and wished them the best on their new path.
“We’re very proud of these cadets that pushed through and overcame everything, and anything we threw at them; we put them through scenarios they might now even encounter in their career, but they’re now prepared to face,” said Fonseca. “These students showed a passion like no other; no matter how tired they would get, they would always have a smile on their face because of what they just learned. I’m proud to say all of them have the dedication necessary for a long and successful career.”
Fonseca celebrated the strong friendship built between the cadets during the program and thanked their families for supporting them through the academy.
“What I admire the most about every academy are the friendships that are built and the long-lasting relationships that carry on through their career. There’s a uniqueness in the brotherhood of the fire service, especially here in the Valley. I’m certain they’ll continue to see each other,” he said. “The fire service is not something that we do, it is something that we are. Every single one of these young men understands that, and it’s clear to me they’re here because they received that calling from within to serve people, we wish you nothing but the best on your journey.”
After graduating from the 16-week program, students will now have to take the Texas Commission on Fire Protection (TCFP) firefighter license examination next week, the last step before becoming certified firefighters.
For more information on the STC Fire Academy and other trainings and programs offered at STC’s Regional Center for Public Safety Excellence, visit southtexascollege.edu/rcpse/ or call 956-872-4208.