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Triton Welcomes Back Graduates of Fire Science and EMT Programs

In a room of teachers and their students, workplace pals, and even a father-and-son legacy, the feeling of camaraderie and family was palpable among the crowd of fire fighters and emergency management specialists at a recent Triton College Alumni reception.

More than 40 alumni of the college's Fire Science Technology and EMT programs returned to Triton's campus on Oct. 25 to reconnect with one another and the school. Graduates representing the classes of 1976 through 2011 from various area fire departments, including Melrose Park, Franklin Park, Hillside, Northlake, Berkeley, River Grove and La Grange Park, as well as current students, attended the reception.

"It's so satisfying to see our graduates providing such a tremendous service to our neighboring communities, and we're glad that Triton remains an important part in their lives," said Triton College President Patricia Granados. "Six of our alumni currently teach in these two programs and are able to provide real-world experience to our students in the classroom. These expert faculty members are giving back by choosing to pass on their knowledge to the next generation, which is a true testament to the great programs we have."

A.J. Aiardo, class of 2011, and Frank Palermo, class of 2004, both work together at the Melrose Park Fire Department and appreciate being able to serve the community they grew up in. "I have an older brother who also graduated from Triton's Fire Science program. And once I saw how much he enjoyed [his line of work], I knew it was something I wanted to do and enrolled at Triton," Palermo said. "At Triton, someone was always available to help me and it was so close to home."

Joseph "Joey" Casale (class of 1976) and his son Robert Casale (class of 2011), also both of the Melrose Park Fire Department, are grateful for the education they received at Triton and for the connections they made. "Triton always had a sense of community," said Joseph, who is currently retired from the fire department and now teaches at Triton. "I remember going to Triton for night school and everyone in my class afterwards would go eat at the cafeteria. Everyone got along well."

Many Fire Science students can attribute their success to program coordinator Mike Kuryla, who has taught at Triton for 27 years. A Triton alum, Kuryla also works as Fire Chief at the Hillside Fire Department, where he's been for 35 years. "I've known so many students. And some are now instructors of the Fire Science and EMT programs at Triton," he said. "I appreciate seeing so many of my students going on to become successful in their careers."

Megan Hansen was one of the youngest alums in attendance, graduating from Triton's EMT program in 2011. She currently works for Superior Ambulance Service and plans to pursue her bachelor's degree. "I appreciated the faculty at Triton," she said. "They will do everything in their power to not see you fail and they have the confidence in you to know you will succeed."

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