If you’ve ever had dreams of becoming an emergency medical technician (EMT), a paramedic, or a member of the Chicago Fire Department, Derek Davis recommends Malcolm X College.

The Beverly resident is currently months away from completing the paramedic program at Malcolm X. Derek began attending the college’s EMT program during the pandemic and took his instructor’s advice to continue on to the paramedic program. He wanted to build his resume and make himself a more attractive candidate.

Even before graduating, Derek already feels like he has a strong resume thanks to the hands-on training he has received at Malcolm X. Additionally, he’s gained real-world experience through the college’s unique partnerships with private ambulance companies, area hospitals, and the Chicago Fire Department.

“Being able to work with the Chicago Fire Department and work with hospitals around the city, you see a wide range of different patients, demographics, illnesses, and injuries,” Derek said.

Derek has wanted to be a firefighter since he was a child, but he didn’t know what path to take to achieve his goal. Once he arrived at Malcolm X, he felt supported, guided, and at home. He found a great support system among his classmates and his instructors who celebrate students’ wins in and out of the classroom. He also appreciates the unique training tools on campus, like the ambulance and the simulation lab.

“The state-of-the-art equipment at Malcolm X helps to put you in that real-world healthcare environment,” Derek said. “Then, you get to apply the skills you’ve gained so they’re almost like second nature. People don’t realize the wide range of resources available at Malcolm X.”

Derek feels this hands-on training not only prepares students for successful careers, but it also teaches them to be versatile, to think critically, to develop strong people skills, and to work with different personalities—all skills that come in handy for EMTs, paramedics, or firefighters.

Malcolm X also prepared Derek by allowing him to focus on his schoolwork instead of how he would pay for his tuition. He received funding for his education through Project MPACT and HEERF. Project MPACT, Malcolm X’s Workforce Equity Initiative (WEI) program, provides eligible students with tuition, stipends, job training, and professional skills development when they complete one of 15 programs, including the EMT and paramedic programs. The Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund, or HEERF, provided emergency grant funding to students during the pandemic.

Derek will soon begin his summer internship that all Malcolm X paramedic students participate in with the Chicago Fire Department. He’ll work alongside Fire Department employees for 480 hours to see how they treat a high volume of patients effectively and efficiently.

Derek is excited to become a firefighter paramedic, but he’s open to other possibilities in the future, too. He wants to continue to build his resume and may want to become a physician’s assistant one day.

“I just want to be something my daughter and the other kids in my family can look up to,” he said.