The National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) and Columbia Southern University (CSU) are pleased to announce the winners of the 2013 NVFC-CSU Scholarships: Deanna Leeper and Andrew McWhinney. Both recipients will be awarded a scholarship for up to two-years towards any of CSU’s online degree programs. This is the fifth year the NVFC has teamed up with CSU to provide members this opportunity to achieve their educational goals.
“The NVFC is proud to partner with Columbia Southern University to offer scholarships to our members. We congratulate the 2013 winners and thank all of those who applied,” said NVFC Chairman Philip C. Stittleburg. “In today’s tough economy, many people don’t have the resources to pursue their educational goals without assistance. Through our partnership with CSU, we are able to help make it easier for our members to achieve their goals, both through the scholarships and with the discount that CSU offers to all NVFC members and their families.”
Deanna Leeper is an NVFC member from Yermo, CA, and will use the scholarship to complete her Bachelor’s degree in Human Resource Management.
After years of putting her education on hold due to life and financial circumstances, Leeper recently re-launched her efforts to pursue her degree and began taking courses at CSU in the spring. “The best thing I ever did was to begin a Bachelor’s degree in Human Resource Management, and I love every minute of it,” she said. “I am able to work on my classes when time permits, and the classes are interesting yet challenging. I can finally see light at the end of the tunnel.”
Leeper’s busy life includes holding a full time job, raising two granddaughters, taking care of her special needs son, volunteering with a local Girl Scout troop, and assisting her local volunteer fire department with events. Thanks to the scholarship and CSU’s flexible schedule, she can now add earning her degree to the list, an accomplishment she has waited years to achieve. “Finishing my degree means the world to me,” Leeper said. She is also proud to be able to demonstrate the importance of education to her grandchildren.
Andrew McWhinney of Monroeville, PA, realized early on that he wanted to pursue a career as a firefighter, but financial limitations meant putting dreams of college on hold. While he was able to land a job as a contracted EMT/Firefighter at US Steel, his opportunities for advancement were limited without having a Bachelor’s degree. With determination, he was able to earn his Associate’s degree with a 3.95 GPA in 2011 while starting a new family, working full time on varying shifts, changing jobs, and remaining an active member of two volunteer fire companies.
With a child on the way, finances didn’t allow McWhinney to immediately continue on in pursuit of his Bachelor’s degree. However, he always planned to one day attain this goal. “I hold on to the idea that education is the key to longevity, a successful career, and even life after a career,” McWhinney said. “It opens doors of opportunity. It allows us to evolve and to stay on the leading edge of our fields. Knowledge is indeed power, and — more importantly — credibility.”
His desire to attain a Bachelor’s degree is stronger than ever, especially as he strives to be a role model for his son. McWhinney will use the scholarship towards earning his degree in Fire Administration. He also continues to serve as a Building Inspector for the Municipality of Monroeville, Deputy Chief of United Volunteer Fire-Rescue, and member of Monroeville Volunteer Fire Company #3.
“The fire service is evolving due to many factors,” McWhinney noted. “It is our responsibility to adapt our ‘basics’ to meet the new changes and challenges. I’m really honored to have this opportunity, and I cannot wait to get started on the adventure.”
CSU is a premier online university for distance learning, offering a wide range of accredited degree programs, open enrollment, and a flexible schedule designed to accommodate the busy life of a volunteer firefighter or EMS worker. Students can choose from online associate, bachelor, master, doctoral, or certificate programs in a variety of fields including fire science, business administration, criminal justice administration, human resource management, and more. The open enrollment or term enrollment options help busy individuals balance career, family commitments, and fire service responsibilities while still working towards their degree.
All NVFC members and their spouses and children are eligible to receive a 10 percent tuition discount and waived application fee to CSU.
Take advantage of this benefit at www.columbiasouthern.edu/nvfc.