Purdue firefighter gets new opportunities learning online

Justin Marvin is a firefighter and paramedic with the Purdue Fire Department.

Firefighter and paramedic Justin Marvin has worked for the Purdue Fire Department since 2016. (Purdue University photo/John Underwood)

More than 500 Purdue employees have attended Purdue Global tuition-free

As the son of two public servants – a teacher and the former West Lafayette chief of police – Justin Marvin was naturally drawn to an occupation that educates and protects his fellow citizens.

He found a calling as a firefighter and paramedic, where he can do a bit of what he admires in each of his parents. He followed his dad into a field dedicated to public safety. And by achieving the highest-level fire instructor rating available in Indiana, he can educate others like his mom.

Marvin determined that if he is to someday follow his father’s lead by accomplishing another long-term career goal – holding a high-level leadership position – he would probably need more than a high school diploma to merit consideration.

“If you want to be anything higher than a firefighter, there’s a benefit to having something beyond basic training and some certifications and things like that,” says Marvin, who has been a member of the Purdue Fire Department since 2016. “In our department, there is no written requirement for advanced education to do anything further, but I know it definitely helps.”

With that aspiration in mind, and after having seen co-workers like Ephina Disinger successfully juggle work responsibilities and coursework through Purdue Global, Marvin decided to complete the associate degree he started at Ivy Tech Community College nearly a decade earlier.

He had been an admittedly indifferent student in his first stint at Ivy Tech, but success in a challenging paramedic program offered through IUPUI and Eskenazi Health later convinced Marvin of his academic capabilities. When his Ivy Tech academic advisor informed him that he could actually complete two associate degrees, Marvin was up for the challenge.

“I applied the same kind of working abilities that I did in paramedic school, the same kind of momentum, and just got it done,” Marvin says. “It was A after A after A in those classes, and I’m like, ‘OK, I can do this.’”

He graduated with associate degrees in paramedicine and fire science in spring 2019, then enrolled in Purdue Global’s fire and emergency management program the following year. The Purdue University benefit that allows employees to pursue tuition-free Purdue Global degrees motivated Marvin to commit time and effort toward another academic credential despite a demanding work schedule and parenting responsibilities with young children who are now 2 and 4.

“Where else can you work that will offer you a chance to complete more than one degree for basically no cost? That’s a huge sense of satisfaction,” Marvin says.

Once again, the highly motivated student – with significant support at home, at school and within his workplace – experienced success in his coursework.

“I loved my professors and instructors in the program. They were very supportive. And my shift co-workers and family were all behind me 100%,” Marvin says. “There were many times where it was difficult, where you had those late nights, or you wanted to try to get some time to study at work and it just never happened.

“You might be up all night going on calls, and then you have to come home to take care of your kids, and you’re exhausted and barely can stay awake to keep them satisfied. And then you have to write a 10-page paper or whatever. It was tough but having that end date in sight helped.”

Marvin completed his coursework for the bachelor’s degree in February and participated in commencement exercises on May 21 in Indianapolis.

As of that ceremony, more than 500 Purdue employees had taken advantage of the tuition-free benefit available through Purdue Global. Like many of his fellow University employees who are now Purdue Global alumni, Marvin likely would not have pursued advanced academic credentials if not for this benefit.

Who knows where they may lead him next?

“You take any employee at Purdue and you’re now giving them an opportunity at a better life,” Marvin says. “It opens up so many doors, really. When I found out about this, it was like, ‘I know I can do it. I’ve already done this. Let’s go for it.’ I’m super glad I did.”

You take any employee at Purdue, and you’re now giving them an opportunity at a better life. It opens up so many doors, really. When I found out about this, it was like, ‘I know I can do it. I’ve already done this. Let’s go for it.’ I’m super glad I did.

Justin Marvin
Purdue University firefighter/paramedic and 2022 Purdue Global graduate