The National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) and Columbia Southern University (CSU) are pleased to announce the winners of the 2011 CSU scholarships. Peter Rucinski of Reno, NV, and Dan Federico of Pittsburg, PA, will both receive up to two years of tuition towards the degree of their choice from CSU. This is the third year that CSU has offered scholarships to NVFC members.
“We are grateful to Columbia Southern University for offering this outstanding opportunity to members of the NVFC,” said NVFC Chairman Philip C. Stittleburg. “Congratulations to Chief Rucinski and firefighter Federico, who have demonstrated their dedication to the fire service, commitment to furthering their education, and their drive to achieve their goals through this scholarship opportunity. We received a record number of applications from across the nation, and we thank everyone who applied for the scholarships.”
CSU, one of the nation’s first completely online universities, offers degree programs that are designed for busy individuals. Both Rucinski and Federico plan to use their two-year scholarship towards a bachelor’s degree in fire science.
Rucinski has been a volunteer firefighter since 1976 and currently serves as chief of the Silver Lake Volunteer Fire Department in Nevada. Education has always been important to Rucinski, and he encourages his department’s firefighters to pursue all types of educational opportunities, from training courses, to certifications, to earning their degrees. His own pursuit of a degree had to be put on hold when he was younger, but he is thrilled now to be able to achieve his dream.
Rucinski has worked hard to make his department top notch. He emphasizes training, regular drills, and the acquisition of needed equipment to ensure members are able to deliver the highest-quality response to their coverage area. He is certified as a Nevada Fire Instructor I and II, has an American Heart BLS instructor’s card for CPR and First Aid, and has earned his Nevada EMT-B Instructors certification. As chief, he trains new firefighters as well as makes sure experienced firefighters are up-to-date with the latest techniques and information.
Rucinski feels that earning his degree in fire science will enhance his abilities and skills as a chief and instructor. “To be able to administer to and train the firefighters with the latest and best available knowledge, I must advance my level of education,” he said.
Earning his degree will also make Rucinski more competitive in the job market. Nevada has a high unemployment rate, and obtaining a degree will help him remain competitive. “With the job market the way it is, education is key,” Rucinski noted. “I am so thankful to the NVFC and CSU for this opportunity!”
Federico has always known he was meant to be a firefighter, and he joined his local volunteer department at age 18. He is currently a volunteer firefighter in Pennsylvania as well as a career EMT and rescue technician.
“This scholarship is very important to my personal, professional, and educational growth,” Federico said. He feels that furthering his education will enable him to be able to better provide for his growing family as well as better serve his community as a first responder. On a professional level, earning his degree will help him take on new challenges and assume a leadership role.