STEM Week First Responder Panel

As part of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) week, Mount Wachusett Community College hosted a First Responder Panel on Tuesday October 18th. The goal of the panel was to educate and answer the questions of current and potential students on what it is like to work within the emergency response field and other helping professions. The panel consisted of a variety of first responders including Fire Captain Tim Shea, Former Park Technician Tracey Betts Sarefield, Dean of Nursing & Health Science/Trama Nurse Kim Shea, Police Officer Michael Bourisk, and Former Crisis Clinician Emma Delaney. 

 The panelists gave advice to individuals who are curious about pursuing a career in emergency response or other helping professions. Fire Captain Tim and Officer Bourisk discussed the importance of advocating for yourself and speaking to your local emergency service department. Tracey Bettes Sarefeild and Emma Delany emphasized the importance of taking advantage of internship opportunities to find out what your interests are and possibly make extra cash. Kim Shea suggested students take advantage of one of MWCC’s unique courses, HEA106, which exposes students to all the health provider services offered at the college. All the panelists highly recommended attending community college to avoid debt. 

 While attending school, having a course load that reflects your career intentions is of high importance. To pursue a career in firefighting or police work; courses in mathematics, biology, anatomy and physiology were suggested. Dean Shea reaffirmed the importance of science and math courses, adding algebra, statistics, and microbiology to the list of recommendations. If you are interested in working as a park technician Tracey Bettes Sarefeild advises signing up for courses in mathematics, soil science, tree identification, geology, and wildlife management. Former Crisis Clinician Emma Delany agreed that science and math are essential to any of these professions, but she also recommends mental health courses like Intro to Psychology, Sociology, and any other course that helps you to understand diverse cultures and backgrounds. 

The panelists were asked what skillsets they believe are needed to succeed in these types of jobs. The most consistent answer was excellent communication skills. You need to be comfortable talking and listening to people. Other skills mentioned were empathy, sympathy, patience, kindness, compassion, critical thinking, and de-escalation skills.  

If you are interested in learning more about getting started in a career as a first responder or in a helping profession, please contact our Admissions team at 978-630-9447 or 



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