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Thursday, June 4, 2009

Members Attain College Degrees

The Prince George’s County Fire/Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Department is pleased to acknowledge four of our members who recently graduated from schools of higher learning. While obtaining a college degree is not a requirement, it may enhance our personal sense of self-value. Additionally, having a college degree, in most instances, is the gateway to greater opportunity for advancement in our professional life.

Fire Fighter Battalion Chief Corey A. Smedley recently received a Master of Science in Management Degree from John Hopkins University. Upon receiving his degree, Smedley, a 14-year veteran of the Fire/EMS Department, stated, “I want to thank the Prince George's Fire/EMS Department for providing the foundation that has afforded me challenges and opportunities.” He currently works in the office of the Deputy Chief Administrative Officer for Homeland Security and Public Safety Director Vernon Herron. Smedley feels his successful completion of the two-year Masters program enables him to make better decisions, professionally. He stated, “An institution of higher learning afforded me the ability to understand theory, research empirical evidence and apply those variables into a practical solution that provides for stable decision making.”

Brian J. Frankel, Acting Fire Fighter/Medic Lieutenant assigned to the Fire/EMS Training Academy (FETA), received his Bachelors Degree in Fire Science from the University of Maryland-University College (UMUC). Frankel, who has been with the Department since November 1999, was hired as part of Career Recruit School (CRS) 30. After moving to his current assignment at the FETA in May of 2006, he began his studies at UMUC. Previously receiving his Associates in Applied Health Sciences from the Community College of the Air Force gave him a good start toward earning his Bachelors degree. As an active member of the fire service, Frankel was able to apply for tuition reimbursement through the Charles W. Riley Grant through the State of Maryland. He took courses online at night, while balancing life with his wife and their four children. During this time, he also studied for both the Technician’s exam (promoted in January 2008) and the Lieutenant’s test. While taking these courses and balancing various other responsibilities may seem difficult, he learned that self-discipline and a supportive wife made the experience manageable. In May 2009, Acting Fire Fighter/Medic Lieutenant Frankel graduated with honors.

When asked about balancing his time, Frankel stated, “Although it was difficult to balance family and professional life, the experience has better prepared me to meet and understand the challenges we all face. My hope is to continue and complete my Masters degree, which I hopefully will start in the fall.”

Frankel recommends all members of the Department pursue higher education. He stated, “Classes such as Fire Dynamics, Fire Investigations, Human Behavior in Fire and the various other required courses reinforce our current knowledge and allow us to better understand every aspect of the fire service. This not only benefits us and our Department, but also guarantees that we have marketability in the future.”

Acting Fire Fighter Battalion Chief Denice L. Dickens and Fire Fighter Battalion Chief Sayshan L. Conver-White celebrated together graduation from the College of Southern Maryland.

Acting Battalion Chief Dickens, a 21-year veteran, coordinates the activities of the Department’s Professional Standards Office. She was one of just four female recruits when she attended the Fire/EMS Training Academy, and the second female promoted to the rank of Fire Technician with less than two years on the job. Acting Battalion Chief Dickens, in an effort to enhance her abilities as an officer, began taking college level courses. In 2005, she began coursework that would enable her to complete her degree. She graduated this May with an Associates of Applied Science Degree in Fire Science Technology, and will continue her education with coursework in Criminalistics and Homeland Security. When asked what being a full-time employee and college student entails, she stated, “Taking any type of additional education puts a burden on you and your family, but it is well worth it. I applaud everyone who has obtained any additional education, because to juggle work, family and life it takes a special person with strong values and a stronger family.”

Battalion Chief Conver-White graduated in May 2009, with an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Fire Science Technology. She graduated with an impressive 3.8 GPA. Conver-White began her fire service career in November 1991, as a volunteer firefighter in Howard County at the age of 16. She attended the University of Maryland-College Park in the Fall Semester 1993, at which time she joined the College Park Volunteer Fire Department. In June 1995, prior to completing her college classes, she was hired by the Fire/EMS Department as part of CRS 27. January 18, 2009, she was promoted to Battalion Chief, and currently serves as the Department’s Safety Officer.

Battalion Chief Conver-White will continue her education at UMUC, majoring in Fire Service Management with additional coursework in Homeland Security. She is happily married to Steven “Country” White, also a Battalion Chief with the Department. They have two young sons and reside in La Plata, Maryland.

Acting Fire Chief Eugene A. Jones was extremely pleased upon hearing of these accomplishments and stated, “Congratulations to all of our members who achieve higher levels of education. These educational accomplishments translate to being better prepared to perform their jobs and provide the very best service to fellow members and the citizens, residents and visitors of Prince George’s County.”

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