Some professionals pursue a degree for a promotion, others a job change. For Alex Stadthagan, Emergency Medical Services program director, his reason was a little more cut and dry: it was in his contract.
The recent graduate earned his Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences, Emergency Management Administration from West Texas A&M in December. A part-time student, Alex finished the program in three years with Summa Cum Laude honors.
Despite holding two jobs – he’s also a full-time fireman, paramedic and hazmat technician with the Irving Fire Department – Alex refused to cut corners, hitting the books between calls at the station and during his free time at the college.
“It wasn’t easy,” Alex said. “Every free moment I had, I was picking up the books.”
The program was based 100 percent online, which, though convenient, added an extra degree of difficulty. Without the stability of in-class meetings, Alex said he was accountable only to himself; studying and completing assignments required discipline and self-motivation.
“I had an advisor who warned me that the Web-based program would require twice as much work,” Alex said. “He was right.”
Though the “driving force” for earning the degree may have been all business, the seasoned professional said he was glad he completed the program. It was something he wished he’d pursued in his early twenties – something he’s telling his son to do now.
Alex originally earned his associate degree in Paramedicine from the American College of Prehospital Medicine and began working in the Emergency Medical Services field in 1981 before becoming a paramedic in 1982. His teaching career began in 1990 with continuing education courses around town, with his main focus being the helicopter fly program.
The remainder of Alex’s teaching experience dates back 15 years to the start of the Brookhaven College EMS/Paramedicine program, before the program was affiliated with the college. Originally established as a “stepchild” of Metrocrest Medical Services, the program was accredited through ACPM, Alex’s alma mater. However, with a community college around the corner, directors transferred the program to Brookhaven College in 2002, where Alex became director.
When the EMS program earned official accreditation in 2007, Alex was grandfathered into the director role but with the understanding that he’d complete his bachelor’s, as stipulated by state requirements.
You’ve worked hard for it, so tell us about it! If you’ve recently earned a degree or certificate, contact the Chatter team so we can feature you in an upcoming issue.