Deserving Pegram Volunteer Firefighter Receives National Scholarship


The National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) and Columbia Southern University (CSU) are pleased to reward NVFC member John Sullivan of Pegram, Tennessee, with the National Volunteer Fire Council Scholarship.
CSU—an online university based in Orange Beach, Alabama, and leader in first responder education—has teamed with NVFC for several years to offer two scholarships to members. Each scholarship will cover up to $13,200 toward one CSU online degree program and will be applied directly to the recipient’s tuition for up to three years or until the student has completed their online degree program.
Sullivan’s interest in firefighting was ignited by his father, who started his career right out of high school and championed emergency medical services for more than 20 years.
After graduating from high school, Sullivan admits he never made the move to continue his education, opting instead to join the workforce and hoping that his desire would be enough for career as a firefighter.
“For the next 14 years, I applied and tested, scoring in the outstanding category from age 22 until age 36,” he explained. “Without a firefighting background, a degree in fire science, or an EMT certification, I was overlooked again and again.”
Meanwhile, Sullivan sought work with a towing and recovery service where he advanced and trained others. A few years later, he became a highway incident emergency responder with the Tennessee Department of Transportation and soon, he gained emergency medical licensure to become a medical first-responder.
“This career gave me the opportunity to work alongside fire, EMS, law enforcement and towing/recovery in a role encompassing all aspects of emergency service work,” said Sullivan. “This job allowed me to make a difference in so many people's lives every day, fueled my desire to serve the public in its time of need, and helped me become part of a team of responders that make it their mission to protect lives and property daily.”
In 2010, the Pegram Fire Department gave him a chance to fulfill his lifelong goal of being a firefighter. He has seized this opportunity and excelled in his efforts to be the best firefighter he can.
“In the seven years I have been with this department, I have been awarded Firefighter of the Year two years in a row, gained my FFI and FFII certifications, HAZMAT Operations, achieved rank of engineer, and duty officer,” said Sullivan. “I have also been recently promoted to supervisor at my job with the Tennessee Department of Transportation.”
Sullivan is anxious to begin his educational journey to earn an online bachelor’s degree in occupational safety and health with a concentration in fire science.
“I know that furthering my education will really benefit me in my careers and ensure that I can continue to lead, educate and mentor others in this field,” said Sullivan.
The scholarship was also awarded to Stephanie Humberd, a volunteer firefighter with the Burkburnett Fire Department in Burkburnett, Texas. 
About Columbia Southern University
One of the nation’s pioneer online universities, Columbia Southern University was established in 1993 to provide an alternative to the traditional university experience. CSU offers online associate, bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees such as business administration, criminal justice, fire administration and occupational safety and health. Visit or call (877) 347-6050 to learn more.