Firefighting ideal job for
by Andrew Shurtleff
Skipper, at the ready on his fire truck, hopes to be a fire
chief one day.
By Virginia E. Carter
Skipper marches to a different drummer, and he doesnt try
to muffle the beat that drives him.
he went to the Student Activities Fair for incoming first-year
students, Skipper was looking for a different way to get involved.
Parked off in the distance was a shiny red fire engine from one
of the area stations.
had found his beat.
Jefferson Scholar became a volunteer with the Seminole Trail Fire
Station in October 1999. Since then, he has logged hundreds of
hours during weekends and late nights. Located on Berkmar Drive,
the station is a busy one, answering the most calls of all nine
fire stations in Albemarle County.
the appeal of firefighting?
its exciting. Two, Im learning a lot and it presents
a logical puzzle to me all these little compartments have
to fit together to solve a problem. Three, its a little
bit on the edge but still practical and helpful.
of his most memorable experiences was responding to a nighttime
car crash where he and his captain had to guide the Pegasus rescue
helicopter to a quick and safe landing in a small area with a
high-tension electrical line. The adrenaline rush and the problem-
solving of that evening are what he likes, said Skipper.
more of a blue-collar, practical kind of guy. I like working with
my hands and being outdoors, said the environmental
sciences major, who spent most of his childhood living on
the campus of Episcopal High School in Alexandria, where his father
taught. He attended high school at Miller School just west of
finds satisfaction in the level of trust and teamwork that firefighting
requires. The camaraderie, too, has been similar to belonging
to a fraternity.
has found time for other interests while at U.Va. He was a resident
assistant and served as the senior resident for Webb House during
his third year.
Madison House volunteer, he served for two years as program director
of Big Siblings/Little Siblings.
after learning more about his ancestry, which includes a Portuguese
grandmother and relatives who came to the United States on whaling
ships from Portugal, Skipper began volunteering with the Hispanic/Latino
Peer Mentoring Program.
on his Spanish is a goal his parents now live in San Salvador,
where his father is headmaster of the American School.
for his career, he is clear on his other goals. In mid-June, hes
moving to Nashville, where his girlfriend, fellow fourth-year
Donna Vleugels, has received a full scholarship to attend medical
school at Vanderbilt University. He plans to work there as a firefighter
to get more experience.
he hopes to attend law school, work as a fire marshal and eventually
become a fire chief.
other job could be this great? said Skipper. I get
to play with tools all the time, drive around in a big truck and
help people out.