Angelina College’s Fire Academy earlier this week graduated 10 new firefighters in a ceremony held inside AC’s Hudgins Hall, with those cadets wrapping up the grueling 16-week course in style – including a traditional bagpipe escort.

Gary Stallard/AC News Service
Gary Stallard/AC News Service

Micah Snow was named Most Outstanding Cadet in a vote from his peers, and Jeremy Schaeffer earned valedictorian honors, edging classmate Kevin Barnes by one-tenth of a point.

Gary Stallard/AC News Service
Gary Stallard/AC News Service


The keynote speaker, Chief Michael Self of the Nacogdoches Fire Department, reminded the new firefighters the path they’ve chosen is far more than an employment opportunity. It is, he said, a true calling.

Gary Stallard/AC News Service
Gary Stallard/AC News Service

“This is not a small accomplishment,” Self told the cadets. “You’ve made an amazing career choice. Choosing to join the fire service is not something one takes lightly, especially considering what you’ve endured over the 16 weeks of this academy.”

Self went on to state the three keys to a successful career in fire service: First, never stop learning and “educating yourself.”

“Anyone who decides on this career because they think they won’t have to go to school anymore is mistaken,” Self said. “Technology and practices change constantly. There are things I learned years ago that are no longer useful. There will always be more opportunities to grow and hone your craft.”

Next, Self said, is “self-care.”

“I encourage you to take care of your mind and body,” Self said. “This career is taxing on both. You’ll see things that are entertaining and interesting, but you’ll also see things that burden you. Take care of yourself mentally, physically and spiritually.”

Most importantly, Self told the cadets, was to remember the “Why?”

“You have to remember why you did this,” Self said. “Learn and take care of yourself, but always remember why you decided to do this. You don’t go into this as a job. It’s a calling, and you need to remember you’re doing this because you care for people. If that’s not your root reason for being here, you’ll burn out quickly and you won’t be successful.”

The new graduates, along with their home towns of record

  • Kevin J. Barnes (Nacogdoches, TX)
  • Lucas A. Coker (Nacogdoches, TX)
  • Franklin D. Fogarty (Longview, TX)
  • Gustavo A. Garcia (Lufkin, TX)
  • Christian F. Jernigan (Garrison, TX)
  • Peter D. Maskunas (Diboll, TX)
  • Seth M. Miller (Kennewick, WA)
  • Riley W. Morgan (Broaddus, TX)
  • Jeremy V. Schaeffer (Nacogdoches, TX)
  • Micah D. Snow (Burnet, TX)

Academy staff members include Doug Conn, Director of Public Safety Training Fire/Law Enforcement; Jason Pope, Coordinator, Fire Academy; Shawn Dillon, Assistant Coordinator, Fire Academy; and Kim Capps, Administrative Assistant.

$6 Million Glass Texas Lakehouse

Gallery Credit: Emily Claire