After 25 years as a firefighter, Brian White decided to take his career in a new direction. His dream is to work behind the scenes to make sure New York is ready for any type of large-scale emergency.
Along the way, Penn State's online certificate in disaster preparedness helped Brian prepare for threats he could not have even imagined before, and put him in touch with first responders around the country.
"The courses did a really good job of simulating the team environment necessary in a disaster situation," he says. "We had to coordinate who was going to be the team leader and who was going to handle what information and then quickly put something coherent together."
Brian's love of firefighting began when he was 8 years old. His uncle Don, a volunteer firefighter in Oradell, New Jersey, let him ride on the back of the engine and sound the siren. He later parlayed that interest into a job with the New York City Fire Department.
"When I started, all I wanted was to ride on the back step of the truck and fight fires," he says. "After a few years in a certain job, you have chances for promotions, which is what I wanted and what drove me to go back to school."
Through the years, Brian advanced from firefighter to deputy chief, where he is responsible for supervising 6 fire units in Queens and Brooklyn. Now he's got his sights set on becoming an emergency manager.
"I still love being out there on the scene, but I would love to be one of the people at the forefront of making sure we are ready for another attack or a new type of disaster," he says. Brian hopes his online education, combined with nearly three decades of professional experience, will give him the edge on getting into the elite group of managers.
"That job is pretty tough to get, but the Penn State certificate will definitely help my credentials and may be the boost I need to move ahead of the other candidates."