The state of Mississippi has 24 additional firefighters following Thursday’s much-anticipated graduation ceremony.
“We are excited for them to go and serve their community,” Terry Wages, executive director of the state’s fire academy, told WLBT.
Firefighter Class 193 is made up of men and women who care for sick people, rescue citizens from damaged vehicles, assist with hazardous spills, and instruct children about fire safety.
The intense training course lasted ten weeks due to a coronavirus outbreak, but the responders took extra precautions and eventually completed the graduation.
“We were able to safely deliver all firefighters back to their communities ready for duty,” Class Coordinator Instructor Chris Carrera explained.
Raymond Evans is a graduate now employed in his hometown of Laurel.
“I knew very early in the class that Raymond had a great attitude, work ethic, and commitment to the goals of the class. These attributes made him a great asset to class 193, as well as a great serviceman for our country!” Carrera noted.
"She is my motivation." 😍 https://t.co/J79yTgKkxk
— WLBT 3 On Your Side (@WLBT) October 14, 2021
The road to graduation has not been easy for Evans, an Army veteran who said he endured one battle after another once he left the military in 2014.
“Making that adjustment to civilian life trying to find where you fit in, I bounced around a lot,” Evans recalled. “A lot of times coming from the military, your personality can be kind of rough to civilians. It was also hard to translate my skills as a logistics specialist.”
Although he has a business degree, an outstanding work ethic, and a shining record, it was hard to find stability.
“I worked at a chicken plant, I delivered pizzas, I did whatever I had to do to keep a roof over my head,” he commented.
Once he took full custody of his daughter, Evans knew he must find a career that allowed him to be there for her as a single father.
“She is my motivation,” he stated.
His daughter, Logan, is ten years old and attended the recent ceremony. She said, “I just smiled. I’m really proud of him.”
It’s a great day when we are able send folks out to make a difference in their #community! We here at #MSFA are super proud of Class 193. Congratulations on your Graduation class!
Evans graduated at the top of his class and hopes his little girl remembers his experience.
“I hope she saw determination; that’s the biggest thing… you want something, you go for it. Don’t give up, especially something that you really want,” he said.