December 1, 2023

National Volunteer Fire Council members receive scholarships

CSU and the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) recently announced the winners of the 2013 NVFC-CSU Scholarships: Deanna Leeper and Andrew McWhinney.

Both members of the NVFC were awarded the scholarships which cover tuition for up to 24 months for one specific online degree program with CSU. This is the fifth year the NVFC has teamed up with CSU to provide members this opportunity.

“The NVFC is proud to partner with Columbia Southern University to offer scholarships to our members. We congratulate the 2013 winners and thank all of those who applied,” said NVFC Chairman Philip C. Stittleburg.

“In today’s tough economy, many people don’t have the resources to pursue their educational goals without assistance. Through our partnership with CSU, we are able to help make it easier for our members to achieve their goals, both through the scholarships and with the discount that CSU offers to all NVFC members and their families.”

Deanna Leeper, a NVFC member from Yermo, Calif., plans to use the scholarship to complete her bachelor’s degree in human resource management.

After years of putting her education on hold, Leeper recently re-launched her efforts to pursue her degree and began taking courses at CSU in the spring. “The best thing I ever did was to begin a bachelor’s degree in human resource management, and I love every minute of it,” she said. “I am able to work on my classes when time permits, and the classes are interesting yet challenging. I can finally see light at the end of the tunnel.”

Leeper’s busy life includes a full time job, raising two granddaughters, taking care of her special needs son, volunteering with a local Girl Scout troop, and assisting her local volunteer fire department with events. Thanks to the scholarship and CSU’s flexible schedule, she can work toward a goal she has waited years to achieve. “Finishing my degree means the world to me,” Leeper said.

Andrew McWhinney CSU Scholarship winner

Andrew McWhinney

Andrew McWhinney of Monroeville, Penn., realized early on that he wanted to be a firefighter, but financial limitations meant putting dreams of college on hold. While he was able to land a job as a contracted EMT/firefighter at US Steel, his opportunities for advancement were limited without a bachelor’s degree. He was able to earn his associate degree in 2011.

With a child on the way, finances didn’t allow McWhinney to immediately continue his pursuit of his bachelor’s degree. However, he always planned to one day attain this goal. “I hold on to the idea that education is the key to longevity, a successful career, and even life after a career,” McWhinney said. “It opens doors of opportunity. It allows us to evolve and to stay on the leading edge of our fields. Knowledge is indeed power, and – more importantly – credibility.”

McWhinney will use the scholarship towards earning an online bachelor’s degree in fire administration. He serves as a building inspector for the Municipality of Monroeville, Deputy Chief of United Volunteer Fire-Rescue, and member of Monroeville Volunteer Fire Company No. 3.

All NVFC members and their spouses and children are eligible to receive a 10 percent tuition discount to CSU. Take advantage of this benefit at