Melissa Brutus was skeptical when she received an email from HACC, Central Pennsylvania’s Community College, about a full-ride scholarship opportunity for black students to become a first responder as an emergency medical technician (EMT) or police officer.
Submitting an application was “the best decision I have ever taken,” said Brutus, who recently graduated from HACC’s emergency medical technician program. She earned her EMT credential by receiving HACC’s Social Justice Scholarship and graduated with no debt.
“During the entire program, I was really impressed by how supportive my instructor was. She would make sure that I understand. English not being my primary language was a bit difficult for me but she leveled with me. I am forever grateful,” Brutus said.
HACC knows that representation matters. Historically, the demographics of first responders in our region do not represent the communities in which they serve. Black citizens are among the communities underrepresented in law enforcement and emergency medical services. HACC is taking action to change that dynamic through the Social Justice Scholarship for low- to moderate-income black students in Central Pennsylvania.
The scholarship covers 100% of HACC-related costs (including books, fees and tuition) for eligible students to complete the EMT program or HACC’s municipal police academy. Students also receive a stipend. These full-ride scholarships are made possible through a $112,500 grant awarded to the HACC Foundation by the PNC Foundation.
“We are grateful to the PNC Foundation for this investment in HACC students and the Central Pennsylvania community. Many organizations are being criticized, and rightly so, for their performative and lackluster equity, diversity, inclusion and belonging initiatives. HACC, because of our core values and the support of partners like the PNC Foundation, is walking the talk to make our community more just and inclusive,” said Linnie S. Carter, Ph.D., APR, vice president of college advancement at HACC and executive director of the HACC Foundation.
HACC’s Senator John J. Shumaker Public Safety Center offers EMT classes throughout the region and the police academy at its Harrisburg campus.
Jobs within the emergency medical services field, such as EMT, continue to be a high priority occupation throughout our region. Many of HACC’s graduates enter the field to work as an EMT, or utilize the EMT certification to become a paramedic or career firefighter. In addition, many EMT graduates utilize this course as a stepping stone to other healthcare or public safety fields.
Robert Stakem is executive director of the Senator John J. Shumaker Public Safety Center at HACC, Central Pennsylvania’s Community College.
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