Just Rewards

Issue 11 and Volume 12.

Getting a college degree is an expensive proposition. Some of us can easily spend the money, but for others it’s a struggle. It is for that reason many colleges promote the concept of scholarships. Among those that are available for public safety is one from a nonprofit corporation named International Public Safety Leadership and Ethics Institute (IPSLEI).

IPSLEI is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation organized to support the development of excellence in public safety leadership at the community college level. It applies to both police officers and firefighters. IPSLEI was formed in the spring of 2006 as a means of continuing the public safety industry’s collaboration in leadership and ethics. It was initially established through the California Community College Chancellors Office, Public Safety Education Advisory Committee with a Carl D. Perkins Grant for the development of a comprehensive program for public safety leadership development.

The California Public Safety Leadership and Ethics Program, as the original program is known, originated in spring 2001. Through the leadership and vision of the California Community College Chancellors Office, Public Safety Education Advisory Committee, the program gained national attention. This national interest led to the formation of IPSLEI and the expansion of the program beyond California. The United States National Fire Academy has endorsed the IPSLEI program, and the United States Fire Administration recognized IPSLEI for a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2010.

Many fire science instructors are not aware of the IPSLEI program that exists on their own college campus. Instructors should contact the program and advise their students of its availability. Students should visit the Web site and see if eligibility will assist them with their financial struggles.

One of the distinct factors of the IPSLEI program is that it focuses on the development of concepts of leadership and ethics in the beginning of a person’s career rather than waiting until they are promoted into a supervisory role. This program is based on the belief that one need not be a supervisor or a manager to understand leadership principles and contribute to the leadership process.

IPSLEI’s flagship program consists of four courses designed to lead a student on a learning journey about exercising leadership. Each course is 40 hours of facilitating learning and an eight-hour practicum. The four courses are Developing a Personal Philosophy of Leadership and Ethics, Leading Others Ethically, Ethical Leadership in Organizations, and Ethics and the Challenge of Leadership.

The IPSLEI program uses Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Societies Leadership Development Studies. The humanities approach is a fundamental component to the learning process. Through a variety of learning methodologies such as written case studies, video case analysis, and interactive learning processes, the students will not only study leadership but will experience leadership within a nurturing learning environment.

In general, fire science students do not integrate well into the community college corporate structure and may be totally unaware of this program. Pre- and post-entry candidates can check their eligibility by contacting their local academic advisor. Most academic advisors can give you details about membership and introduce you to your local chapter.

Phi Theta Kappa is recognized as the official honor society for community colleges by the American Association of Community Colleges. The mission of Phi Theta Kappa is to recognize academic achievement for college students and provide opportunities for them to grow as scholars and leaders. Phi Theta Kappa is an honor society that contributes more than $90 million in scholarships each year.

For additional information on this scholarship program, visit the Phi Theta Kappa Web site: www.ptk.org. There you will find a section that allows you to research chapters. Research indicates that there are multiple chapters in a wide variety of states.

To be eligible for membership, you must be enrolled in an accredited institution offering an associate degree. You must have completed at least 12 hours of course work that may be applied to an associate degree (part-time students may be eligible). You must generally have a GPA of 3.5. You must receive an invitation for membership from the chapter where you are currently enrolled. You must adhere to the moral standards of society. Fire science students can determine their eligibly by contacting their local chapter advisor.

There are programs at the community college level that can provide financial assistance to motivated parties. This program is one of many that supply resources to young firefighters as they aspire for educational completion. It should be used and expanded on.