Michael Cronin, Fire Service Administration Graduate
Like many young people, I attended college when I graduated high school. However, I left school before graduating to start a career with the New York Fire Department. Advancement in rank was determined solely by highly competitive examinations. A college degree was not a requirement for promotion. During my career, I was promoted to the ranks of lieutenant, captain, battalion chief, deputy chief, deputy assistant chief, and assistant chief. Unlike most people who pursue a college degree to advance their careers, my career was already successful. Not having a degree left me with a feeling of unfulfillment, however. I wanted a college degree not for what it might do for me professionally, but rather what it would do for my self-esteem.
I enrolled at the Center for Distance Learning with eighty transfer credits, and over a period of several years earned a bachelor of science degree in fire administration. My mentors took a personal interest in my success. They were hard task masters who held me to a high standard of excellence, and I hold them both in high regard and deep affection.
My assignment before retirement from the fire department was chief of training. In collaboration with John Jay College, I had the New York Fire Department Training Academy designate a satellite campus where a master of science degree in protection management would be offered to members of the fire department. I enrolled in the program along with twenty-five fire fighters of all ranks. Two years later, twenty-one of us received our master of science degrees. The program is on-going, preparing the future leaders of the fire department to effectively meet the challenges that face today's fire service. The success of the program is an achievement of which I am most proud.
I am now president of Michael F. Cronin Associates, a fire consulting firm that provides expert witness testimony and litigation support to attorneys. This field of endeavor is neither uncompetitive nor uncrowded. While few people in the field share my experience, even fewer people match my formal education. It is my degrees that establish me as a credible person whose opinions should receive serious consideration. None of this would have been possible without the Empire State College's Center for Distance Learning.