Balancing school while having to put out fires at work can be stressful for most. But it’s especially difficult when those fires are literal.
Working as a wildland firefighter with the Florida Forest Service, Chuck Mullin was able to earn his AA in Aviation Management due to the convenient online format. While he was sometimes called to put out fires while doing homework or taking exams, Mullin was still able to graduate with a 3.67 GPA.
Mullin plans on using his new credential to advance into an aviation management unit in the Forest Service. In the meantime, he can celebrate the sense of accomplishment of earning a degree after taking a break from school decades ago.
“I started college in 1989 and stopped after my first year. It was a goal that was unfinished for almost 30 years… I started the class when I was 46 and finished with a 3.67 GPA. I realized I can still do whatever goal I want to accomplish through hard work.”
We spoke with Mullin about how he balanced school with work, his favorite course and more.
Q. Tell us about your background.
I live in Okeechobee, Florida. I currently work as a wildland firefighter with the Florida Forest Service. I’m a former oilfield/nuclear plant diver and boat captain.
Q. How will your Florida Tech degree make a difference in your career?
My degree will help me advance in the aviation management units of the Forest Service and allow me to deploy onto larger wildfires out west.
Q. Do you have any future plans with your degree?
I will be applying for the aviation base manager position when it opens.
Q. What surprised you most about taking an online program?
It was the first time I’ve taken an online college program. The ease of use and being able to “chat” with people from all over the world made it very interesting.
Q. What was your favorite class and why?
Aviation Safety I enjoyed very much. Most of the jobs I’ve had have been very dangerous. Safety has always been an issue. Seeing how the aviation industry improved through accidents and mishaps shows that safety is a major concern.
Q. What was your most valuable takeaway from the program?
I started the class when I was 46 and finished with a 3.67 GPA. I realized I can still do whatever goal I want to accomplish through hard work.
Q. What advice would you give other students who are considering enrolling in the program?
Don’t give up. Use whatever tools are offered, ask questions, start reports early, participate in the discussion.
Q. Who has been your support system?
Family and friends
Q. What was the most challenging part of your student journey?
Working full-time as a wildland firefighter made it difficult. I am on-call 24 hours-a-day when I am scheduled, even if I’m not scheduled as on-call. It was hard to study sometimes because fires would break out often and I’d get called to put them out. I was even called out to fires while taking exams. There were times where I’d get back from a fire, get something to eat and bring my laptop with me so I could finish homework.
Q. Who or what inspires you to succeed?
I started college in 1989 and stopped after my first year. It was a goal that was unfinished for almost 30 years.
Have you completed one of Florida Tech’s online programs? We would love to share your success story in our Student Spotlight series. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for additional details.