Alumni Spotlight: Ronald Washington
To Iraq and Back, Ronald Washington Earns His Degree in Fire Science
Ronald Washington , Alumnus
Ronald Washington knew he wanted to earn a BS in Fire Science,
but needed to find a way to manage it while working as a civilian
contractor in Iraq. University of Maryland University College (UMUC)
offered the program and flexibility he needed.
Washington chose UMUC after researching several universities online. “It seemed like a good fit for me,” he says. “The Web site was very professional and in addition to fire science, the university offered other courses of interest to me such as homeland security and emergency preparedness. UMUC’s program also offered a good combination of class work and hands-on training.”
Washington became interested in fire science working as a professional firefighter for 12 years in his hometown of Lake Charles, Louisiana, and doing part-time safety work. “A lot of the local petroleum and chemical plants and refineries were hiring fire and safety professionals and paying them good salaries,” Washington explains. “It’s also a field that allows me to do what I enjoy—helping people.”
Scheduling time for school was challenging for Washington. He worked 12-hour shifts every day in Iraq as a health and safety coordinator, conducting safety inspections, audits, assessments and safety meetings. “I used every minute to my advantage,” he says. “I was blessed to have a job that allowed me to sit behind a desk at various times throughout the day. During my free time I did homework or studied for tests and made phone calls to my wife and family back home.”
Washington returned home permanently from Iraq in November 2008 and graduated from UMUC in May 2009. He is currently working as a lead safety health and environmental representative for a large module company in his hometown.
Washington is grateful to UMUC for everything it has done for him. “UMUC has prepared me to advance in my profession,” he says. “The teachers were all great; they were understanding of the hardships I faced working 12-hour shifts in Iraq.” He adds that his most memorable accomplishments are completing the Fire Science Cooperative Education Program (COOP), which allows UMUC students to apply classroom theory to real-world professional projects, and WRTG 394 Advanced Business Writing.
“Receiving my bachelor’s degree from UMUC has given me the confidence to succeed in a competitive safety field,” says Washington. “I’m eligible for promotion with my current employer or if I choose to change companies, I have the credentials to do so. I have already recommended UMUC to a lot of my friends and family. And, when I decide to return to school for my master’s degree, UMUC will definitely be my first choice.”