Student Spotlight

Firefighter’s second act includes teaching career thanks to Brandman degree

Scott Jaeggi
Scott Jaeggi is the battalion chief for the Morongo Valley Fire Department. He also teaches at the Rio Hondo College Fire Academy, thanks to his Brandman degree.

After the crushing blow of a career-ending injury, 15-year veteran firefighter Scott Jaeggi turned the page to a new chapter in his fire career. His second act included teaching part-time at Rio Hondo College’s Fire Academy and working as a fire inspector with the Los Angeles County Fire Department. While Jaeggi’s love of teaching grew, his ability to advance in his career did not. He needed a bachelor’s degree to teach full time and to make more money. In 2014, Jaeggi graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Applied Studies from Brandman University, which opened the door for new opportunities and a full-time faculty position. In August, he added battalion chief at the Morongo Valley Fire Department to his resume.

How did going back to school help you/your career?
It helped me in several ways. When I completed my undergraduate degree, it put me in a position to meet the requirements necessary for promotion opportunities. It also helped me hone my writing skills as I completed my degree online. Additionally, knowledge of Blackboard, a learning management system, give me insight into what my students were experiencing and gave me more empathy as a teacher.

Who inspired you while attending Brandman?
My wife. She inspired, encouraged and supported me throughout my program. We also sparred a bit along the way. She would ask me if I was done with a paper, and I’d tell her “one more hour,” which led to five hours of work. I am an overachiever who always tried to get A’s in every class.

What advice would you give someone going back to school as an adult?
Choose your program wisely. Find classes that will help you with your current goals but also choose classes that will broaden your knowledge base. I took a supply chain management course as an elective because I wanted to understand what my wife and her friend did in their jobs. It was really eye-opening and gave me the knowledge to know what they were talking about at the dinner table.

Did anything surprise you about Brandman University?
Nothing really surprised me. I understood what I was getting into initially. I had great counselors who helped guide me and update my education plan. I found out about Brandman through an ad with the California State Firefighters Association (CSFA). Brandman had a partnership with CSFA which offered me a scholarship and really helped me get started in my program. Since then I have referred three other firefighters to Brandman.

What would you have done differently?
I would have started much sooner! I had a series of, what I like to call, false starts. I enrolled at the University of La Verne but couldn’t keep up with the in-person classes on campus with my work schedule. Next, I attended California State University, Long Beach (CSULB), but I had to complete the program with my cohort and that didn’t work with my schedule. Luckily, I was able to transfer much of completed coursework from CSULB to Brandman which gave me a head start to completing my degree.

What motivated you while going back to school?
I reached a point in my career and life where I wasn’t able to move forward with a promotion without obtaining a bachelor degree. I wanted to get to the director level where it is easier to collaborate and make a positive impact on programs. I couldn’t do that without my Brandman degree.
I was teaching part-time at Rio Hondo College at the fire academy and the only way to get a full-time position was to get my undergraduate degree.

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