EMT spring grad featured in ABC News ‘The Orphans of COVID’ docuseries
Tre Burrows, a spring graduate of Palm Beach State College’s Emergency Medical Technician program who lost his mom to COVID-19 last August, is featured with his three sisters in an ABC News docuseries highlighting the impact of the disease on America’s children.
Titled “The Orphans of COVID: America’s Hidden Toll,” the docuseries first aired on May 12, coincidently on the day Burrows received his EMT-B College Credit Certificate. It is the first step on his path to becoming a firefighter. ABC News followed five families for months to develop the docuseries, which was reported by David Muir, with producers Eric Noll and Esther Castillejo. It aired on World News Tonight with David Muir, Good Morning America and Nightline. It is also now available on Hulu.
Burrows enrolled in the EMT-B program, which is a prerequisite for PBSC’s Fire Academy, this past January to help secure a stable job in what he considers a “noble profession” but also one that will provide the flexibility he needs for his family and to help raise his younger sisters.
Burrows, who will turn 21 this month, and his sister, Jenny, 25, took on the parental role for their young siblings, ages 15 and 12, after their mom, Cindy Dawkins, died Aug. 7, 2021, just days after her 50th birthday.
A native of the Bahamas, she moved back to her hometown after her children were born. However, she returned to the U.S. permanently around 2005-2006 after getting a transfer opportunity with her job.
Tre said it has been difficult navigating life without their mom, but he and Jenny also have been focused on their education and career plans to ensure they can care for their family and stay together. “We’re all doing pretty good now. We’ve been able to get back into a routine.”
“Thankfully, we were raised Christian. That’s helped us get through this,’’ he said.
A graduate of Somerset Academy, Tre was already planning to apply for the EMT-B program before their mom passed, “not really knowing how I was going to make that happen financially,’’ he said.
“When everything happened, this is like another blessing that came out of a horrible situation,’’ he said. One of his neighbors learned about his mom’s death and paid for his educational expenses. “It definitely sealed it for me. If someone is going to pay for me, I’m going. It’s no excuse.”
A GoFundMe account also was established to help the family. Jenny attended a private career college to become a dental assistant with a longer-term goal of becoming a dental hygienist, while Tre enrolled at PBSC. With the GoFundMe, they were able to pay off her student loan, bills and have a down payment on a home they purchased this past February to keep the family together.
Tre plans to spend the next year preparing for and taking the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians certification exam and the Candidate Physical Abilities Test, both requirements for the Fire Academy. He hopes to apply and get into the academy next January.
He said he’s happy to have completed this phase of his educational journey and to walk across the stage to accept his certificate. “I took the opportunity that came to me and I succeeded,’’ he said.
“The school experience has been great. The instructors are great. I’ve enjoyed learning everything and connecting with the firefighters that they’ve introduced us to.”