Columbia Southern University is proud to award scholarships each year to two members of the National Volunteer Fire Council. The 2019 recipients are Scott Blake and Laurie Sharp.
Scott Blake of Moundville, Alabama, has volunteered with the Englewood-Hulls Volunteer Fire Department in Tuscaloosa since 2004. He hopes to complete his bachelor’s degree in fire administration and then begin his master’s degree in public administration.
“These degrees will advance my participation in emergency services by opening opportunities to teach larger audiences outside of my present scope,” he said. “They will also enhance my ability to contribute back to the emergency services community by teaching me advanced skills in oral and written communication, advanced fire and emergency mitigation techniques, and advanced management practices and theories that I will be able to use and teach to others.”
Blake currently serves as the department chaplain, company lieutenant, EMS coordinator and training officer. He has received many awards throughout his volunteer fire career, including a Distinguished Service award for his efforts during a tornado outbreak in 2011 and commendation from the governor for work completed after Hurricane Opal in 1994. Blake has also been named Firefighter of the Year four times.
“I believe that an education is the foundation upon which life can be built,” he said. “I believe that the training that I can offer because of this scholarship will empower others to save the lives of and prevent the harm of victims and emergency responders everywhere.”
Laurie Sharp of Kingsport, Tennessee, has been with the Warriors Path Volunteer Fire Department since 2009. With the help of the NVFC scholarship, she plans to pursue a bachelor’s degree in fire administration.
Her experience in public service began at the age of 17 when she attended the Citizens Fire Academy at the Kingsport Fire Department. She now serves as deputy chief for her volunteer department, and also as a fire inspector for the Tennessee State Fire Marshal.
“I am passionate about serving my community, providing the finest emergency services and training to further advance my skills and knowledge,” she said. “The knowledge I will obtain from this degree program will give me the tools I need to better serve my volunteer fire department in leadership and administration.”
Sharp is looking forward to the impact she make upon completion of her bachelor’s degree.
“Upon completion of this program, I will be better prepared to lead and command the firefighters on emergency incidents, develop and implement new vision and business plans for Warriors Path VFD, and expand Warriors Path VFD’s fire prevention outreach” she said. “This program would allow me to invest more deeply in the fire and emergency services.”
Each scholarship will cover up to 60 credit hours towards one online degree program.
To learn more about this scholarship and tuition discounts for NVFC members, visit ColumbiaSouthern.edu/NVFC. Learn more and join the NVFC at NVFC.org/BeYourBest.