Columbia Southern University, NVFC Award Scholarships to Two Dedicated Firefighters

For the tenth year, the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) and Columbia Southern University (CSU) have teamed up to award two NVFC members with a CSU scholarship to help them achieve their educational goals.

The 2018 scholarship recipients are Thomas Peterson and Theresa Pospichal. Each recipient will receive a scholarship to cover up to 60 hours toward one CSU online degree program that will be applied directly to the recipient’s tuition for up to three years or until the online degree program is completed.

Peterson has worked for Avalon Fire Rescue District in Milton, FL, for the past 11 years and will use the scholarship to obtain a bachelor’s degree in fire administration. He wants to be a leader and instructor in the department and hopes to use his education to inspire and teach others.

“I have discovered not only a passion for firefighting but a passion for teaching. I have realized the opportunity to learn from others, and sharing that [knowledge] brings as much fulfillment as actual firefighting does,” said Peterson. “I believe that I can make a difference in the levels of passion that younger firefighters have for the job as well as rekindle the passions that some of the older, experienced firefighters have lost along the way.”

Pospichal will also pursue a bachelor’s degree in fire administration. She joined the Wilsall (MT) Fire Department in 2016 as a volunteer firefighter/EMT and wants to move into the administrative level to help her department meet administrative and operational standards.

“With the education provided by this degree program, I would also like to improve recruitment and retention by formalizing orientation and training programs for our diverse volunteer base that often has no prior fire experience,” explained Pospichal. “Neighboring departments and even the search and rescue [teams] are struggling with similar issues, and I would be eager to share the applicable knowledge and skills obtained through the degree program.”

CSU, a university based in Orange Beach, AL, has been working with the NVFC since 2009 to offer two scholarships a year to NVFC members. To date, 20 recipients have been able to further their learning and achieve their educational goals through the partnership. CSU offers a wide range of online associate, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs, including those in fire science and related fields.

To learn more about this scholarship and tuition discounts for NVFC members, visit Learn more and join the NVFC at

About Columbia Southern University
This year, Columbia Southern University celebrates its 25th anniversary. As a pioneer in online education, CSU was established in 1993 to provide an alternative to the traditional university experience. CSU offers online associate, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees such as business administration, criminal justice, fire administration and occupational safety and health. Visit or call (877) 347-6050 to learn more.

About the NVFC
The National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) is the leading nonprofit membership association representing the interests of the volunteer fire, EMS, and rescue services. The NVFC serves as the voice of the volunteer in the national arena and provides invaluable resources, programs, education, and advocacy for first responders across the nation. Learn more at