I have always wanted to become a firefighter, but I also have had a passion for medicine. Volunteering as an athletic trainer, getting my EMT license, and working full-time on an ambulance have all lead me to wanting to take the next step to become a paramedic. I worked alongside firefighter-paramedics and knew that I wanted to have the skill base to help the community at a higher level than as an EMT. I always have a drive for more knowledge in order to keep up my education to benefit those around me. Receiving the opportunity to go to paramedic school was a dream come true.
A co-worker had actually recommended I apply to UCLA’s paramedic program since they were accepting applications. He knew that I wanted to become a medic someday, and encouraged me saying I was ready. With the high reputation UCLA has regarding their paramedic program, I didn’t think I was going to be accepted on my first try. I doubted my knowledge base, but I had the passion to learn. It was the only medic program I applied to because I loved the history and met many paramedics in the field from Daniel Freeman (the progam’s former name) that were confident and competent. I was inspired to reach high by applying at UCLA, and it turned out to be the best leap I’ve taken yet.
My immediate reaction to the scholarship award notification was disbelief, relief, and then grateful tears. I couldn’t believe I was so lucky, first to have been accepted into the program, and then lucky enough to actual make it a reality. Originally when I was accepted, I did not know financially how I was going to come up with the tuition amounts needed in the timeframe given. Receiving the scholarship notification was an amazing feeling.
The funding helped me make the decision to be able to attend the paramedic program. I was on the verge of not being able to come up with the funds. My mother graciously let me move back home to take care of living expenses, but the rest was going to be up to me. Even though she wished she could help more financially, it just wasn’t possible. The scholarship helped with the initial payment and then I qualified for grant money to help pay for the rest. This scholarship that the Sekine family set up in Mitch’s honor was the biggest factor in helping me take a step towards my dream career.
My future and immediate goal is to work as a paramedic, hopefully for a fire department. I am hoping to work for the LA City Fire Department. I have always wanted to work for them: I love the diversity and culture of the department. I completed my internship with LA City Station #57, and knew that this department would be my ultimate goal. Knowing how hard it is to find a paramedic job, I know I need to keep up skills and gain experience. Wherever I go, being a paramedic is something I want to keep up and do for the rest of my working life. The idea of going to work every shift and possibly saving a life or at least doing my best to help out the surrounding community makes me very happy.
I have had to work full-time while putting myself slowly through school, and it hasn’t been easy. Education is only getting more expensive and harder to obtain. Whether it’s raising costs, or less grants available, it is becoming more difficult for people like me who need to still work and help out their family, while trying to achieve their dreams. I know many EMTs who work for $8 an hour, like I did, who would love to go to paramedic school and would be amazing paramedics, but they know financially it probably won’t happen.
Donating to this fund would be providing a well-deserving person the opportunity for higher education that otherwise may not be available to them. Having this scholarship encouraged me to do great every day, and show up with a smile on my face. I walked by the backboard with the bell in the hallway every day, saw Mitch’s name, and felt grateful I was able to stand there in his honor.
I want Mitch’s family to know that their gift is an honor and a blessing for all those that have received this scholarship. My family is just as grateful as I am. My mother wished she could have helped more, but providing a rent-free roof over my head during school was more than enough. I am the first in my generation to have graduated from anything. Thanks to Mitch’s family, my dream, and my family’s wishes for me have come true. Once I get hired as a paramedic, I will return the favor by donating and promoting this scholarship.