Nick Pollak became a volunteer EMT five years ago on a whim. And after a while, he was volunteering more hours at the station than he was at his paying sales job. Realizing the opportunity ahead of him, he decided to up his skills and advance his way through the EMT ranks with the goal of starting a paramedic training program. That’s where he found himself in the hands of Laurel Ridge Community College, where he was awarded G3 tuition assistance.
Nick researched other options, but when the staff at Laurel Ridge told him he was going to get his degree for next to nothing, the decision was made for him.
“Basically, you’re going to pay next to nothing to obtain this certification, that kind of makes it a no-brainer,” he said. “If I go to a private certification program, I’m coming up with $10,000, which as a single dad, is not necessarily something I have laying around. I think so far, my out-of-pocket cost has been $60 to do the paramedic program. And that was for my two polo shirts I needed for clinicals.”
As a single father, Nick also needed a program that was designed for a working adult so he could balance the demands of raising two children, while paying the bills AND going to school.
“They actually structure their program for adult learners – two nights a week, every other weekend, depending on what the class is, what series you’re in, which for somebody that has to work a job that’s not fire and rescue related, that’s almost perfect,” Nick said.
Nick also benefitted from having peer support while training to be a paramedic at Laurel Ridge. There are multiple people in his local fire department that are also pursuing training. He also developed relationships with his peers who he found to be similar to him – some were older with children, others had already had bachelor’s degrees and needed to find a fresh path.
The dream job for Nick is to be a flight medic, and with the education under his belt and the passion for helping his community, he’s on his way to making an even bigger difference in the lives of his neighbors.
“I’m going back, doing a big career change, and I have done nothing but try to sell this program to other people,” he said. “Ever since I found out about it, I’ve been ringing that bell over and over again. ‘Hey, you want to get to that next level, here’s an avenue.’ I think it’s a game changer.”
Nick attended Laurel Ridge Community College. If you’d like to see if you’re eligible for G3 tuition assistance, contact your local community college to get started.