Dec. 15 Graduates Included Public Service Majors Who’ve Prepared for Journeys into World of “First Responders”
EMT-Paramedic graduates share different reasons for becoming public servants and first responder professionals
Article by Melinda Eddleman
Their personal journeys may have been different, but their choice to become “first responders” makes new Del Mar College (DMC) Public Service Department graduates unsung heroes and heroines before they even start. They’ve already dedicated themselves to serving the public, worked hard to complete their training and now they’ll step into the world and face the challenges and rewards that first responders confront just like Fall 2023 Commencement keynote speaker Corpus Christi Fire Chief Brandon Wade.
Among the College’s 518 graduates making up the Class of Fall 2023 are EMT-Paramedic Program graduates Hannah Spitzer, Liliana Venne and Allyson Vondran, who “walked the stage” on Dec. 15 at the American Bank Center, and Phillip Vaiz, who couldn’t attend. All four earned a Certificate and an Associate in Applied Science degree in the field.
Twenty-one-year -old Flour Bluff High School graduate Hannah Spitzer said she was influenced by both her boyfriend and other peers who completed the College’s EMT-Paramedic Program and encouraged her to do the same.
“Even though I didn’t really have plans to become a paramedic in the beginning, I knew that I wanted to work in the healthcare setting,” Spitzer noted.
She also said that her mother was a phlebotomist and was another influencer on her decision to pursue the program.
“We always watched Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice, and those shows made me really develop an interest in the healthcare field,” she said, adding: “I was initially planning to go into nursing school, so I figured I would get my basic certification before I started. But, once I did those ride outs, I realized I loved the pre-hospital setting and wanted to pursue paramedicine.”
Spitzer plans to work in 911 in Alice, not leaving the area anytime soon. She also said that she’s made lifelong friends through the EMT-Paramedic Program with faculty, who provided support and experiences over the past year-and-a-half that she won’t forget.
For 20-year-old Liliana Venne, who graduated from Richard King High School, the experience of a ride out to observe the world of a paramedic also sold her on completing the College’s program.
“I took courses in the EMT Program for fun, but, I fell in love with this field after my first ride out,” she said. In fact, Venne noted that she experienced her first ‘code’ on that ride, an experience that finalized her decision to enter the field and complete the EMT-Paramedic Program.
“So now, I have a job lined up for a 911 position in Alice as a paramedic,” she added.
For Allyson Vondran, age 23, entering the field is a family matter, and she has always wanted to be a paramedic since she was seven-years-old, mostly because her father was one and her mother worked as an EMT-Basic.
“My parents really had a lot of respect for the field and instilled a sense of pride regarding [the occupation],” Vondran said.
Not originally from Corpus Christi, family obligations became another reason Vondran came to the Coastal Bend from Waco to earn her EMT-Paramedic certificate and associate’s degree after finishing her initial training as an EMT-Basic. Her sister was going through end-stage lung failure, so Vondran was working an incredible number of hours in addition to her school and clinical load to help her mother with bills and the cost of travel for out-of-town doctor appointments.
“Due to the nature of my sister’s condition and when I wasn’t involved with work or school, I spent a lot of time trying to correct my sister’s respiratory distress or prevent her from going into full-blown distress,” she said, adding: “That required a lot of attention and energy.”
Vondran noted that all of her instructors helped her get where she is now. “After my sister died, they really supported me in a way that allowed me to finish my program and establish myself as a medic,” she said. Her sister passed away in September.
Even though she’s now completed her EMT-Paramedic training, Vondran said she’s not ready to leave the area nor her mother, yet.
Fellow graduate who couldn’t make the ceremony is 35-year-old Phillip Vaiz, completed the DMC Regional Fire Academy and EMT-Basic training in 2022 but has now earned his Certificate and Associate in Applied Science degree this in EMT-Paramedic because many fire departments require those skills.
As an older student, the Robstown High School graduate completed his training while also meeting family obligations with his wife Gabrielle for their two children––four-year-old Mia and Phil, Jr. who’s age two.
“Attending school while having family obligations can be difficult, but we just found a balance and knew it would all be worth it in the end,” he said.
Those sacrifices have paid off, and Vaiz will begin his new job with the Corpus Christi Fire Department on Jan. 2, where he plans on “growing my career with [the department] and [taking advantage of] all the opportunities they have to offer while also gaining invaluable experience.”
Vaiz added, “It has always been my dream to serve my community as a first responder and help people, and I am grateful to the Del Mar instructors who guided me along the way in my journey to where I am now.”
To learn more about the Department of Public Service's Emergency Medical Technician-Paramedic Program, visit www.delmar.edu/degrees/emergency-medical-technician/index.html.
Del Mar College empowers students to achieve their dreams. We offer quality programs, individual attention, outstanding instruction through faculty with real-world experience and affordable costs to credit and noncredit students in Corpus Christi and the South Texas Coastal Bend area. Nationally recognized while locally focused, we’re ranked in the top two percent of community colleges in the country granting associate degrees to Hispanic students (Community College Week). Del Mar College focuses on offering our students programs that match current or emerging career opportunities. Whether students are interested in the fine arts, sciences, business, occupational or technical areas, students get the education they need for the future they want at Del Mar College.