September 29, 2023
Eric Nila - Scholarship Winner

CSU, Hispanic firefighters group present scholarship

CSU and the National Association of Hispanic Firefighters (NAHF) recently awarded a Scholarship to Erick Nila, deputy fire chief at Little Rock Air Force Base.

Nila, who is also a U.S. Air Force senior master sergeant, received the award for his winning essay in a contest presented by CSU for NAHF members. The award covers tuition for up to 24 months for one specific online degree program with CSU. Nila holds a bachelor degree in fire science with CSU and currently plans to use the scholarship to seek a master’s degree in emergency services management.

“A week after completing my bachelor’s degree, I set a new goal to complete my graduate degree in emergency services management. Not only will this help me in my current position, completing this goal will help me in my career after I retire from military service,” said Nila.

A Southern California native, Nila planned to work while pursuing a college degree after high school. Unfortunately, the Gulf War broke out and he enlisted with the Air Force in the 1990s.

“My chosen Air Force specialty was fire protection. After basic and technical training, fire department leaders felt it was best to get experience in contingency operations. I have been deployed in every war, conflict and peacekeeping operation since the mid-1990s,” he added.

However, being away from home and moving from installation to installation left Nila little time to pursue education.

“For stability and my family, I accepted a special duty assignment as a fire instructor at the Lewis F. Garland Department of Defense Fire Academy in 2004. This was the key to education opportunities that I was waiting for. I completed two associate degrees and began my undergraduate while assigned there,” he explained. A little less than three years later, he graduated with a bachelor’s degree from CSU in 2012.

Nila added that another reason for seeking more education: “As a parent, I want my child to have a better life than I had growing up and have more opportunities than I had.”