LAKEWOOD RANCH — Although small at 5-foot-4 and 115 pounds, 19-year-old Michaela Wynn of Arcadia likes a physical challenge and wanted a career to be proud of so she became a firefighter.
Wynn and 14 young men comprise the 24th class to graduate from Manatee Technical College’s Firefighter 11 Minimum Standards program at the Fire Science Academy.
A crowd of roughly 100, including family, friends, firefighter instructors, school administration and Diana Greene, interim superintendent of the Manatee County School District, attended the graduation ceremony Saturday afternoon at the East Campus in Lakewood Ranch.
“I fully support any of our programs that allow students to enter the workforce with excellent skills,” Greene said before thanking the families of the graduates for supporting them in school.
The 600-hour program, which takes about six months to complete going full time, is required by the state of
Florida to become a certified firefighter. Students must be 18 years of age, a high school graduate and complete a background check and physical examination.
Instruction includes a comprehensive orientation to fire service and emergency medical techniques.
Manatee Technical College received word earlier in the week all 15 graduates had passed the state test to become certified state firefighters.
“It’s like letting the little birds go out of the nest. Since we’ve had them for so long, we almost treat them like our own kids,” said Henry Sheffield, fire services coordinator for all MTC fire sciences programs, including fire officer and inspector training.
“This is a job where you could do everything perfect and still get killed, but it’s still a job you will relish. It’s a lifelong effort of education and training to keep those odds in your favor,” said William Kebler, lead instructor and retired battalion chief from Broward County.
Special acknowledgements were given to Cameron Jensen for Best Time on the Combat Challenge, which he completed in two minutes 45 seconds. The academy record is 2:27.
Zack Schwalbe took Best in Skills and Ryan Nelson was Best in Academics, completing the program with a 93 percent average.
Nelson, 30, of Bradenton, said he intends to become an emergency medical technician in Manatee or Sarasota county. He credits long hours of studying to becoming the highest scholar in his class.
“There were many long nights and weekends, but I had a lot of support from my family and kids. They understand all the sacrifice that’s involved,” Nelson said, while his 8-year-old stepson asked if they could go fishing now.
Marie Wynn, mother of the only female graduate, said her daughter choosing to become a firefighter did not surprise her at all.
“She’s independent, highly intelligent and loves a good challenge. She has high goals of becoming a fire chief and then a city manager, so this is just the beginning of her career.”
Kathryn Moschella, East Manatee reporter can be reached at 941-745-7010. Follow her on Twitter @MoschellaHerald.
Read more here: http://www.bradenton.com/2015/06/07/5837855/15-firefighters-graduate-from.html#storylink=cpy