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Rowan-Cabarrus, Fayetteville State create four-year transfer program for firefighters

SALISBURY — Rowan-Cabarrus Community College already has the largest firefighter training program in the state, and the school now hopes to help students “seamlessly” pursue a four-year degree.

The fall semester, which began last week, is the first in which students in the firefighter program can easily transfer to Fayetteville State University’s bachelor’s degree program, the school says. Fayetteville State and Rowan-Cabarrus signed what’s known as a bilateral articulation agreement earlier this year.

“This transfer agreement opens the door to an efficient and affordable bachelor’s degree, which aligns with our commitment to help our students navigate as far as they can go,” said Rowan-Cabarrus President Carol Spalding in a news release.

A four-year degree is particularly valuable for firefighters looking to gain an edge when seeking employment or move into a leadership position, said Lee Ennis, chairman of the fire protection technology program and assistant director of fire and emergency services. Ennis said one former Rowan-Cabarrus student has already transferred to Fayetteville State, and he believes interest will be high for firefighters and students.

“Becoming a firefighter is very competitive, and once you become a firefighter, moving up in the ranks is very competitive,” Ennis told the Post. “One of the few things you can do individually is set yourself apart from the others. … Using education to set yourself apart will not only get you employed at the department that you’re aspiring to be in, it will also benefit you down the road.”

Increasingly, municipal fire departments require degrees for leadership positions, too, Ennis said.

Another reason why the transition program is worthwhile, school officials said, is that both Rowan-Cabarrus and Fayetteville State have received the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Fire and Emergency Services Higher Education certification.

That the transition is seamless means Rowan-Cabarrus staff can ensure there’s no loss of course credits for students intent on starting locally and transferring at Fayetteville State, said Jenn Selby, director of transfer, philanthropy and the arts, and Michael Quillen, vice president of academic programs. Said another way, once students are on the right track, no courses will be counted as a general elective by Fayetteville State, with students having to retake similar or identical courses following a transfer.

“We map all of that out at the beginning. So there is a very discrete map for them and everything they need to take will transfer, they know about it up front. We counsel and advise them as students in the pathway and not just as students,” Quillen said. “We know the bureaucracy. They shouldn’t have to figure out how to navigate all of it.”

Salisbury Fire Chief Bob Parnell said in a news release that the Rowan-Cabarrus fire program is the best in the state and that “many students will be able to benefit” from the new transfer program.

“I congratulate these two institutions on this forward-thinking and very modern agreement,” Parnell said.

The transfer program is offered online and accepts transfer credits from Rowan-Cabarrus as well as prior professional certifications, a news release said.

For more information about the Rowan-Cabarrus fire protection technology program, visit rccc.edu/fire. There are currently 47 students in the program, and 13 graduated within the previous year.

Contact editor Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4248.

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