Three HISD grads headed for Houston firefighter training with $5,000 scholarships

Growing up with two uncles as firefighters and listening to their stories of saving lives has inspired Furr High School graduate Justice Jones to take a similar career path.

“I understand the dangers of being a firefighter because I’ve seen my uncles come home from work with burns, cuts, and even a broken collarbone,” Jones said. “But that’s a risk I’m willing to take because I love helping people, and firefighters save thousands of lives every year.”

Jones is one of three students who recently received a $5,000 Houston Fire Department scholarship to take firefighting and emergency medical technician (EMT) courses in order to receive a fire technician certification from a local community college. Scholarships were also presented to William Moreira of Sharpstown High School and to Antonio Rodriguez of Westbury High School.

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In 2013, the HISD Career Readiness Department began a partnership with the Houston Fire Department’s Cultivate Advise Support Empower Youth (CASEY) program to provide firefighting exposure and training to HISD students after school. The program will expand to a formal Career and Technical Education program in the 2014-2015 academic year for freshmen at Westbury and Chavez high schools.

Funds for the scholarship were raised by Houston area Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen franchisees who donated a portion of the restaurants’ sales from June 19.

“Firefighters play such a vital role in keeping our communities safe, and these scholarships are a way for Popeyes to show our gratitude by assisting three deserving individuals in their dreams of becoming a firefighter,” said Popeyes franchisee Harry Stafford.

The scholarship recipients were selected through an essay contest that required them to explain why they want to be a firefighter for HFD. They will begin their fire coursework and training in the fall.

“I’ve always appreciated and admired the people who put their lives on the line to protect our community,” said Moreira. In his essay, he wrote about witnessing a firefighter rescue a child from a burning apartment building in his neighborhood. “It has motivated me to make a positive impact in someone’s life and a difference in my community.”