The Florida State College at Jacksonville has received a $25,000 Fire Cadet Academy Grant from the AT&T foundation to help students who want to become firefighters.
With the grant, 11 scholarships have been made available to students from underserved communities who are interested in becoming a firefighter. Training will be at the Fire Academy of the South.
The academy is on FSCJ’s South Campus and includes a firefighting simulator.
FSCJ President Dr. Cynthia Bioteau said the partnership is going to help provide a diverse workplace in the future.
“The combination of diversity, the need for trained firefighters, and the financial needs of students came together with the generous corporate partnership - such as AT&T - to provide the scholarships for these students who want to be firefighters but can’t afford the training and the program,” Bioteau said.
The scholarships cover tuition, books and rental fees for gear that students need for the program.
The recipients were selected from a pool of applicants with incomes below $35,000 a year. The application process included writing a two-page essay laying out the reasoning for wanting to become a firefighter and going through an interview process.
“Sometimes it is hard to find money to set aside for education and training,” Bioteau said. “And that is why this type of partnership is so critical.”
Lauren Adams, a single mother of two, is on her way to realizing her dream of being a firefighter with the financial help.
Before receiving the help, she had wondered if it was possible to handle the added financial responsibility as she sat on the bed with her mother.
When she heard about the opportunity to earn a scholarship she went for it.
“I just knew right then and there this was my chance and that everything happens for a reason,” Adams said.
The 11 recipients are from different backgrounds and neighborhoods that represent the city’s diversity.
“ I think it’s important for all people of all genders and races to know that they can do anything,” Adams said. “It doesn’t matter what the job is, you can, you can do absolutely anything.”
The students will be working toward completing their Firefighter I/II Workforce Certificate, which will prepare them for the exam that aspiring firefighters must successfully complete.
Joslyn Simmons can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, 904-358-6316.