September 22, 2023
Todd Smith

First-responder wins CSU founder’s scholarship

CSU graduate Todd A. Smith recently won the Robert G. Mayes Memorial Scholarship and is anxious to enroll again.

Smith, who has a bachelor’s degree in fire science from CSU, plans to use the scholarship to continue his education and further his career.

“Most large cities and various departments require master’s degrees to enter the management positions. I will be prepared when those doors open to compete effectively for the positions,” said Smith, a lieutenant with the Jacksonville (Fla.) Fire and Rescue Department.

The Robert G. Mayes Memorial Scholarship was established in loving memory of Robert G. Mayes, CSU founder. This $5,000 scholarship is awarded annually to a CSU alumnus who wants to further his/her education by obtaining an online master’s or doctorate degree with CSU.

Smith works with the Special Operations District, specifically the Technical Rescue Team and staffs the Urban Search and Rescue Team – Florida Task Force Five.

“I am responsible for managing technical rescue responders during incidents ranging from swift water rescue emergencies to a building collapse. Our specialized teams are very progressive when preparing and dealing with various uncommon incidents and those with serious implications that threaten our community,” explained Smith, who has been an emergency responder of some variation since 1992.

The Jacksonville native applied for the scholarship out of economic need and desire to return to CSU’s online education.
“There’s not a firefighter in this nation that has not felt the economic squeeze in the form of pay cuts or diminishing benefits. I wanted very much to earn my master’s and the scholarship fills a monetary shortfall and allows me to pursue my degree,” he said.

When it comes to CSU, “I absolutely love the class format, selection of material, and professors interaction. In my 20-plus years of attending college, I have not previously gained as much in whole as I have with CSU,” said Smith.

He originally chose to attend CSU “because of the staff, and specifically my academic advisor David Emond. He was genuinely interested in helping inspire me to start my bachelor’s, progress at a realistic pace through the program, and in turn, begin working towards my master’s. The CSU staff communicates in such a way that it is motivating and never discouraging to me.”

His bachelor’s degree has also boosted his opportunities and career interests.

“I have applied so many of my class lessons into daily work activities and behaviors. The bachelor’s will be the difference if the opportunity presents itself for administrative assignments with my current department. Also, doors already opened in the private sector for employment opportunities specifically as a subject matter expert because my degree is in fire science,” he explained referring to his current position as a subject matter expert / incident commander at IIF Data Solutions, Inc.

When he’s not battling emergencies, Smith likes to hike, travel, spend quality time with his family (his wife is a firefighter, too) and work with his local firefighters union. “Recently, we participated in an awesome event: the annual Fight for Air Climb through the American Lung Association. We raised money and climbed the Bank of America Tower in full turnout gear,” he said.

Smith plans to again enjoy his time with CSU as he readies to enroll.

“I actually look forward to classes in my program of study. I have been allowed to explore subjects (i.e. Military History I & II) at an academic level not pursued before. I find myself looking forward to the next chapter in each class and have not begrudged any classes I have taken,” he added.

He is very hopeful this will continue.