Fire department leader credits PBSC for reigniting a passion for her career

From bartending in Colorado to teaching scuba diving in California, Jamie Walker had considered herself somewhat of a nomad, eventually finding herself at Palm Beach State College.

Originally from Wisconsin, Walker was living in California when the terrorist attacks took place on Sept. 11, 2001. She moved to Florida and completed PBSC’s Public Safety Program in 2002, and a year later became a West Palm Beach firefighter and first responder.

Recently, Walker became the assistant chief and health safety officer for the fire department. “What we do today is go outside our department and learn what other agencies are doing and try and implement what we can here in Palm Beach County.”

Now with the department for 20 years, Walker has seen tremendous opportunities to advance her career. “I feel like I’m pretty successful at the moment. I never really sought out to be a leader. Leadership kind of just happened as I progressed through my career.”

Walker is part of the 85% of Palm Beach County’s first responders who are trained at Palm Beach State, a remarkable achievement for the College and service to the community. She believes that serving the community is one of the most significant experiences any of us can have. “You get a new perspective when serving in public safety.”

Palm Beach State gave Walker the tools she needed to be successful though not only as a student. “PBSC reignited a passion for me and my career when I became an instructor at the College.”

Today, Walker greatly appreciates PBSC Fire Recruit Director David Hamel. “He is my go-to-guy, always with a ton of insight.” Hamel’s expertise and instruction have benefited Walker, especially in her time with the West Palm Beach Fire Department, which sponsors students in PBSC’s EMT program.

“The partnership we have with Palm Beach State shows how much the department believes in the program.”

Walker once taught with the College’s Police Academy, now working closely with the PBSC Fire Academy. “The best part of teaching is often introducing students to the equipment and the tasks with which a firefighter may be challenged, preparing them for what lies ahead on the job.”

Watching students flourish has been one of Walker’s joys in being a fire academy instructor. “You see things in this industry that the general public doesn’t, and it changes your perspective on life.”

In recognition of Palm Beach State College’s 90th anniversary, the weekly Alumni Spotlight Series showcases the College’s role in preparing generations of graduates to achieve success in myriad careers and give back to their local communities.

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