Forest City, Iowa – Jeff Eastman can breathe a sigh of relief. The 33-year-old paramedic firefighter and single parent of four has received a full-tuition scholarship from Waldorf College that will ease the path toward finishing his degree.
A fire science administration major and a Waldorf online student, Eastman is one of the six recipients of the Learning Partner Scholarship, which is awarded to the employees or members of companies, associations and organizations that are official Waldorf College learning partners.
This scholarship will help Eastman, who works with the Mason City Fire Department, provide more financial stability for his family as he completes his bachelor’s degree. “This was unexpected. I’m so excited,” said Eastman. “This is going to help me a great deal.” Eastman graduated with an associate’s degree in liberal arts from North Iowa Area Community College (NIACC) in December 2010 and has completed a year of his online bachelor’s degree at Waldorf College.
Eight years in the fire science and emergency medical services field, along with an excellent academic record and drive to advance his career through education, made Eastman an outstanding candidate for this prestigious scholarship. Waldorf College President Bob Alsop said, "The selection committee was very pleased with Jeff's credentials. He has a strong background in fire science and his academic record at Waldorf College is brilliant.”
In addition to Waldorf’s reviewing committee, Eastman also impressed his team at the fire station. “Any kind of education in management and fire science is a plus for the station,” said Fire Captain Richard Paulson at the Mason City Fire Department. “Jeff is a good asset. I hope his learning leads him further in the department.” In his current position, Eastman works three 24-hour shifts a week, splitting the day into firefighting and paramedic work. “Some days are worse than the others,” he said. “Working an entire day is something you get used to after a while.”
Eastman’s journey in firefighting began soon after the 9/11 attacks, when he felt the urge to do something for his country and give back to the community. He enrolled in an EMT class and joined the security services at Larson Manufacturing in Clear Lake, Iowa, where he previously built storm doors for eight years. “There was an important component missing from my life,” said Eastman. “I wanted to help people.”
But his commitment to helping others didn’t end there. In January of 2008, during a busy workday at the fire department in Clear Lake, his partner suffered a seizure and Eastman found himself calling out for help. “I felt helpless,” he said. “That is what drove me to paramedics.” Eastman earned his paramedics certification in Iowa City, after which he joined the Trinity Regional Medical Center at Fort Dodge. “I like being there with the people who are having the worst day of their life and help them through the situation,” he said.
Even though Eastman has had many achievements throughout his career, he wants to keep moving forward. “I do feel accomplished, though I’m not done here,” he said. And a degree in fire science from Waldorf College will be his next goal. “The program at Waldorf is great. The professors are good, they make sure everything goes the way it should and give me immediate feedback.”
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