Flames and Fortitude: Fire Academy Alum Conquering Career Thanks to Crafton Hills College 

Every day, Crafton Hills College Fire Academy alum Grace Shumate applies her philosophy of grit into her goals. The personal mantra represents more than determination to the proud Roadrunner.

“’G’ is giving 100 percent no matter the situation, ‘R’ is always having respect for yourself, the people you work with, and the people you serve,” the grad explains. “’I’ is having integrity, that cornerstone of the fire service … and ‘T’ is giving your time to serve.”

The award-winning cadet recently completed the 107th Fire Academy at Crafton Hills College, landed a gig as a firefighter emergency medical technician (EMT), and is planning to return to CHC for her paramedic certification — all the while, earning a six-figure salary at 23 years old.

“The amazing thing about Crafton’s Fire Academy, which is different from other fire academies, is that they have instructors from all over,” Shumate explains. These industry-experienced instructors come from well-known departments spread across Southern California, including San Bernardino County, Rancho Cucamonga, Anaheim, Orange County, and more.

“It was a really unique opportunity to learn and grow under these incredible people.”

Before enrolling at Crafton Hills College, Shumate completed her bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology at Cal State San Bernardino before attending West Coast EMT in Riverside. The CHC Fire Academy gave Shumate the necessary skills in leadership, communication, and physical fitness essential in her current position as a firefighter EMT for the Rancho Cucamonga Fire District.

In most California fire departments, firefighters at minimum are required to have EMT certification. Shumate is preparing to go the extra mile, as she plans to return to CHC next year to earn her paramedic certification.

“Now I can go to school and … increase my knowledge of EMS care,” the firefighter explains. “But their scope is a lot bigger than an EMT. … So, I can push medications, and then Rancho also gives you a stipend for having your paramedic.”

The paramedic program at CHC offers flexible courses, allowing hardworking students like Shumate to pursue her paramedic license while simultaneously continuing to work in her field.

“Both of our Spring and Fall programs are considered ‘part-time’ to allow individuals to work while attending class,” notes Amanda Ward, Director of the Paramedic Program at Crafton Hills College.

Our spring program is calendared to accommodate a schedule that fits most fire departments in the area. The fall program meets 3 days a week and aligns well with those who work for private ambulance companies.”

The paramedic program sees an impressive 95 percent of grads become employed paramedics within six months of graduation. Incoming paramedic students, along with the Fire Academy and additional public safety programs, will learn the vital skills in CHC’s new $9.5 million Public Safety Training Center, which opened this January.

“We will utilize the Public Safety Training Center for its abilities to provide dynamic scenario-based training as well as collaborating with the Fire Academy in full-scale, multi-company drills,” Ward continues.

With the center’s state-of-the-art facilities and opportunities for collaboration, these programs will offer even more chances for public safety students to succeed.

As Shumate prepares for the next step in her career, the fire professional is reflecting on some of the fundamental lessons she’s learned along the way. This Includes the concept of the ‘Firefighter Triangle,’ an illustration showcasing the basic elements to make fire — heat, fuel, and oxygen — each laid out on one of the three points in a triangle. Shumate’s experience in her education and career led the CHC grad to create her own version of the visual tool.

“The top [point] has a heart for service, because you can’t be a firefighter or serve in the job if you don’t have a heart for people,” Shumate describes.

“The next [point] is to have the right attitude. Ninety-nine percent of the time, we can’t control the situations we’re called to, but we can always control our attitude towards it … and then the ability to take initiative … no matter if someone’s watching or not.”

Shumate says her version of the firefighter triangle can be applied to nearly any emergency medical service professional. “Falling back on those three elements has really given me a better perspective on the job.”

As the firefighter EMT continues to make great strides in her career, she looks forward to the next chapter.

“I owe it all to [Crafton] for the career I have now,” Shumate beams. “It was probably one of the best things I’ve ever done.”


Learn more about Crafton Hill College’s Fire Academy and Paramedic program by visiting www.craftonhills.edu.