Doing the job she loves: Paramedic takes advantage of free college offer
Published 8:10 am Monday, October 2, 2023
By Jeanna Baxter White
Word Master Media Group
Despite enduring a particularly grueling 24-hour shift, Ashley Lipscomb, a paramedic at Davie County EMS, can’t fathom pursuing any other profession.
“I’m an adrenaline junkie, so I thrive on the lights, sirens, and running emergency calls,” she said with an infectious grin. “Having to think fast to develop a treatment plan fires all of your brain cells; it’s exhilarating.”
Lipscomb graduated from Davie High in 2021 and went to work for Davie County EMS as a part-time EMT.
Recently, she took a step forward by obtaining an associate degree in emergency medical science and her paramedic certification at Davidson-Davie Community College (DDCC).
It was all free, thanks to the IGNITE DAVIE College Promise.
IGNITE DAVIE pays tuition and fees with a stipend for books for graduates to attend Davidson-Davie Community College (DDCC) full-time at either campus. The funds kick in after other scholarships or federal aid have been applied.
Students must live in and attend school in Davie. All eligible high school graduates, regardless of financial need or academic ability, can continue their education and career training.
Lipscomb got a head start on her college education by taking NC Career and College Promise dual enrollment classes beginning her junior year at Davie High.
During her senior year, she earned her certified nursing assistant (CNA) and EMT certifications through a program between Davie High and DDCC. She learned about IGNITE DAVIE from her college instructors, who pointed out that the program allowed students to concentrate on classwork rather than focusing on how to pay for their education.
“I had already taken most of the classes needed to complete my associate’s degree, and I knew the paramedic program was only two years. So, when I learned that IGNITE DAVIE would cover the cost, I jumped at the opportunity. Some of my paramedic books cost $200 to $300 a piece, so the book stipend was really helpful, too.”
A self-professed “homebody,” Lipscomb said she likely would have gone to DDCC or Forsyth Tech anyway, but the tuition assistance and book stipend from IGNITE DAVIE to attend DDCC made it an easy decision.
“I knew going into college that I would be responsible for paying for it. My parents told me they would help me if I needed it, but I am very independent and didn’t want to rely on them to pay for my education.
“IGNITE DAVIE made it possible for me to get my associate’s degree and paramedic certification on my own without incurring debt.”
Given her 24-hour work shifts followed by 72 hours off, Lipscomb opted for a hybrid program that permitted her to continue working full-time while pursuing her paramedic certification. She attended classes online during the week and dedicated every other weekend to hands-on skills training and clinicals. This additional training equipped her to perform more advanced medical procedures, such as administering oral and intravenous medications, monitoring electrocardiograms (EKG), and performing intubations.
“Balancing a full-time job and coursework could be challenging at times, but both my EMS administrative staff and instructors were incredibly supportive, working with me to ensure I could accomplish everything,” Lipscomb said.
“I would encourage other students to take the dual enrollment classes during their junior and senior years and definitely take advantage of IGNITE DAVIE. Even if they want to go to a four-year program, they can get their prerequisites out of the way at DDCC and then focus on their major. They could save thousands of dollars.”
Ashley Lipscomb is one of many students who have benefited from IGNITE DAVIE, but none of this would be possible without contributions.
Once permanently endowed, it is designed to benefit business owners, teachers, parents of elementary schoolers, grandparents, students who want to work with their hands, first-generation college students, and students who wish to attend a 4-year university.
To make IGNITE DAVIE sustainable, the Davie Community Foundation is helping to raise the final $1 million of the $3 million endowment goal. Once achieved, the endowment will provide annual earnings to cover program costs indefinitely.
To add support, visit DavieFoundation.org/donate and select IGNITE DAVIE from the dropdown list.