News Paramedic Graduate Selected As Co Student Speaker For Gcs 50th Commencement - Garrett College
Apply Now
Plan a Visit
Request Info
Make a Gift

Campus News

May 16th, 2022

Paramedic graduate selected as co-student speaker for GC's 50th commencement

"Program flexibility, experienced instructors are invaluable"


Brett Thomas

From his first day on an ambulance, Barton resident Brett Thomas knew he had found the career that 'clicked' for him. Later this month, Thomas will be addressing the 2022 graduating class of Garrett College as a co-student speaker for GC's 50th commencement exercises.

"The combination of serving citizens of the community and being in the medical field was appealing to me," Thomas said. "Pursuing a paramedic studies degree was a critical step in earning the satisfaction of having a rewarding career in emergency management services."

According to Thomas, Garrett College just made sense.

"My program of interest is highly regarded and nationally accredited. Garrett College's atmosphere is welcoming and provides students with an excellent opportunity to learn and excel," remarked Thomas, a 2018 graduate of Mountain Ridge High School.

"I am so excited about Brett earning the paramedic studies A.A.S. degree. Most students take the paramedic program for certification only," said Doug Beitzel, GC's paramedic program coordinator. "Brett was able to transfer in some credits from outside Garrett, complete the entire paramedic program, and finish the additional credit needed to graduate this spring along with two other students."

Flexibility was key for Thomas to be able to continue his education at Garrett while working as an EMT-B for the Allegany County Department of Emergency Services and serving as Vice President and EMT-B for George's Creek Ambulance Service, Inc.

"I was able to maintain working full-time hours, volunteerism in my community, and earning my bachelor's degree at Frostburg State University while enrolled in the program," noted Thomas. "The paramedic studies program offered affordable tuition and high-tech equipment with hands-on experiences to prepare me for my career."

"Mr. Thomas was selected as one of two student speakers this year for Garrett College's 50th Commencement Ceremony," said Dr. Ryan Harrod, GC's dean of academics. "Already a professional in his field, his A.A.S. degree in paramedic studies will allow him to continue to further his career goals."

After graduating from Garrett College, Thomas plans to continue working for the Allegany County Department of Emergency Services.

"I hope to gain valuable experience and grow within the department," he said. "I would also like to complete my master's degree in emergency management from University of Maryland Global Campus that I am currently enrolled in."

Thomas noted that the hands-on experiences and learning opportunities unique to Garrett's paramedic studies degree program provided him with the tools and knowledge to elevate his career in the workforce.

"Garrett's program offered real-life scenarios in a lab setting using tools such as 'Sim Man' and 'iSimulate' monitors to better prepare me to provide high quality patient care in my field," Thomas stated. "The program has also equipped me with the knowledge and skills necessary to earn my national registry certification in the industry."

"Honorably, Brett has finished near the top in his class. Once he completes his licensure exams, he will put into action these life-saving skills within the communities he serves," said Josh Hook, GC's paramedic program lead instructor. "It has been a pleasure having him in class and watching him progress through the program successfully."

Mock code scenarios in class remains one of Thomas's fondest highlights as a student.

"Working in emergency management services, a paramedic may go from a dead sleep to doing CPR in less than 10 minutes," explained Thomas. "Doing surprise mock code scenarios during class tested our skill set, told us what we needed to work on, and gave us that sense of surprise that we will experience in our real-life paramedic career."

Learning alongside experienced paramedics in the field proved to be invaluable to Thomas.

"Doing case studies, hearing about experienced paramedic calls throughout their career, and learning from these instructors will hopefully make me a better paramedic," he stated. "I appreciate all the support instructors that came to campus to share their knowledge and career experiences."

He also credits GC's faculty and staff for their dedication and commitment to his success in the program.

"The faculty at GC has been nothing less than amazing at showing support and their commitment to my educational experience," Thomas said. "Doug and Josh were always available via phone to answer questions, which is extremely important when doing clinical hours and completing homework after school hours."

"It was a privilege to have Brett in class," Beitzel added. "He is the perfect example of a young person wanting to serve the community. He will go on to make a difference in thousands of lives."

Thomas added, "Doug kept things well organized and always explained everything to us as students in the program. I appreciate Josh for taking on a new role at the college and for spending countless hours ensuring the students receive accurate and useful information for our career paths."

According to Hook, Thomas has completed the required coursework, fieldwork, and labwork to earn his certificate as a paramedic, which meets the requirements for the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT) so he can test for his paramedic clinician license.

"As a field clinician myself, I look forward to working with Brett as a fellow Advanced Life Support (ALS) clinician in the field very soon," Hook stated.

For anyone desiring to further or continue their education, he strongly recommends to check out Garrett College first.

"My single-handed best advance to give a person is to DO IT!" remarked Thomas. "Garrett College provided me with the necessary resources to earn scholarships to cover my tuition, the flexibility to continue working in my career field, and challenged me to learn new and useful concepts and skills in a student-oriented educational facility."

Garrett College's 50th Commencement exercises will begin at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, May 21st in the Community Aquatic and Recreation Complex Gymnasium.