Community Service Turned Career Passion

November 16 2017
Category: Academics

At Elmira College, community service is not only strongly encouraged, but it is a graduation requirement. As a junior, Yhon Alexander Salvatierra ’19 has already fulfilled his 60-hour requirement, but he’s not done yet. His volunteer experiences at the Elmira Heights Fire Department continue to expand his skills and shape his future medical career.

Let’s head to the firehouse and learn more from Yhon...

The Elmira Heights Fire Department  

I am an international student from Cusco, Peru, majoring in biology with a pre-med concentration. Community service is an excellent opportunity to enhance not only your personal experience as a college student, but also to develop professional skills. These are some of the benefits that I have gained volunteering at the Elmira Heights Fire Department. I was certified as a firefighter in the State of New York, and continue to learn new skills and receive training to assist in a variety of emergency situations.

Elmira Heights is a small village of about 4,100 people. The fire department protects the citizens here and provides mutual aid to the Elmira City Fire Department as well as other fire departments in Chemung County. I was very happy to learn that, after completing the 60-hour community service requirement at Elmira College, I would be able to continue as a volunteer firefighter as an international student throughout my college program. Although being a college student is a new (and time-consuming) experience for many of us, the thought of completing community service may sound overwhelming. However, if students conduct proper research, community service opportunities related to their degree programs can turn out to be amazingly rewarding.

During my time as a volunteer firefighter, I have encountered a variety of emergency situations. I responded to fire alarms as well as EMS calls. I also provided first aid and helped to save someone’s life by performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). While these different tasks sound difficult to perform, learning how to make a difference in the safety and well being of the lives of others is incredibly rewarding.

Some people might think that being a firefighter in a foreign country is too dangerous, especially considering the language barrier, but I have found the experience invaluable. More importantly, I am pursuing a future career in the medical field and working one-on-one with people as a volunteer firefighter is an incredible experience. In addition, I am grateful as an international student to learn more about American culture by working with other firefighters from different backgrounds.

Elmira Heights Fire Department

I am really thankful that I found this whole new life experience as part of my community service that prepares me for my future career. I want to pursue opportunities in the medical profession and becoming an emergency medical technician (EMT) will help me accomplish my professional goals. I would like to encourage to all students to find an opportunity to work within their communities in order to grow as an individual, both personally and professionally.

If you are interested in highlighting your community service experience, please contact Julie Fielding at the Office of Career Services.