19
December
2023
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17:04 PM
America/Chicago

STC Fire Academy celebrates 20 new graduates

Summary

 To protect lives and aid those in need was the pledge made by twenty new South Texas College graduates as they celebrated their completion ceremony at STC’s Fire Academy, hosted at the Regional Center for Public Safety Excellence in Pharr.

To protect lives and aid those in need was the pledge made by 20 new South Texas College graduates as they celebrated their completion of STC’s Fire Academy during a ceremony hosted at the Regional Center for Public Safety Excellence in Pharr.

"Firefighting is a brotherhood, and much like them, our success relies on working together as a region. As a college, we collaborate closely with agencies across the Rio Grande Valley, to provide the resources they need and ensure we’re shaping highly skilled first responders,” said STC Vice President of Information Services, Planning, Performance and Strategic Initiatives David Plummer, Ed.D. “Families, rest assured that these young men and women have been trained well. I’m certain that if I am ever in need and I see you respond, I will feel secure, confident in the excellence of your training.”

Surrounded by friends and family, STC Fire Academy Class 31 and Class 32 graduates received the college’s Basic Firefighter Certificate, a rigorous and challenging 16-week program that has equipped them with the skills and knowledge needed to tackle the Texas Commission on Fire Protection (TCFP) firefighter license examination.

“Thank you to STC for giving us the opportunity and the resources to fulfill our goals and become future public servants,” said valedictorian for Class 32 David Garza Jr. “Thank you to our instructors for their years of service as firefighters and their continued service through education and preparation for future generations of firefighters. The wealth of knowledge between the two of them have not gone unnoticed.”

Students also expressed gratitude for the invaluable support in training and guidance provided by STC alumni Fernando Garcia (Weslaco Fire Department), Elisabeth Hartley (Harlingen FD), Juan Guajardo (Edinburg FD) and other local agencies, including the Mission Fire Department, Alamo Fire Department and Pharr Fire Department.

“From a burning building to helping an elderly person stand up, we are needed. People have a special place in their hearts for firefighters because they know we’ll be there, no matter what,” said keynote speaker Gus Ramirez, Alton Fire Department chief. “Never forget why you chose to be in this career - because you care and want to make the world a better place. Congratulations to you all, hope to see you soon in the field.”

Firefighting is a brotherhood, and much like them, our success relies on working together as a region. As a college, we collaborate closely with agencies across the Rio Grande Valley, to provide the resources they need and ensure we’re shaping highly skilled first responders. Families, rest assured that these young men and women have been trained well. I’m certain that if I am ever in need and I see you respond, I will feel secure, confident in the excellence of your training.

David Plummer, STC Vice President of Information Services, Planning, Performance and Strategic Initiatives

For cadet Cathrina Luera, becoming a female firefighter signifies a remarkable achievement she once considered out of reach.

"I wanted to be a firefighter ever since I was in elementary school, but people doubted that women could do it. It feels amazing to be here, even though I was told I couldn't do it. That made me push myself even more," she shared. "I'm ready to start working in the field and keep learning. I want to pursue an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) program next because the medical field is so needed among first responders."

Following a similar path, many of the graduates have chosen to further their education by enrolling in the Associate Degree in Fire Science program offered online by STC.

Additionally, they plan to pursue an EMT certificate or degree in the future.

“We challenged them and they stepped up, this is what we need for our future,” said STC Instructor Oscar Rodriguez. “Here we have 20 individuals, strangers on day one, and by the end of the academy they have formed a bond with each other that’s going to carry through their career. We are so proud of the resilience and excellence they have demonstrated and we hope they come back and help mentor future generations.”

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.