When Bronwyn Burman earned a Bachelor of Science in development studies from the University of California at Berkeley in 2010, she thought she’d end up working in a developing country building hydration and sanitation systems. But her part-time college job working for UC-Berkeley’s outdoor boating program turned into a professional opportunity, and Bronwyn managed the boating program for four years after graduation.
“That led me into outdoor education,” says Bronwyn, who became a field instructor for NOLS, a global wilderness school, in 2015—a position she still holds today. She leads expeditionary wilderness courses and teaches wilderness medicine classes through the school at places like REI and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.
Pursuing Her Passion, Chasing a New One
Since 2017, Bronwyn has worked the summer season—May to October—at Yosemite National Park as an emergency medical technician (EMT) and search and rescue (SAR) technician. She moved to Colorado in January 2019 and for summer 2020, she’s working as a climbing ranger once again as an EMT for the National Park Service—but this time, in Rocky Mountain National Park.
“I’m really proud of the career I’ve built as a wilderness EMT and instructor of wilderness medicine,” says Bronwyn. “But I’ve actually been thinking about becoming a nurse for a long time. When I came to Colorado last year, I started taking prerequisite classes to go to nursing school. It’s a stable, in-demand career, and closely related to the things I love to do.”
FRCC Online: An Awesome Experience
Since she started taking online classes at FRCC in early 2019, Bronwyn says she has had an “awesome experience.” “The attention I’ve gotten from my advisors and professors are great,” she says. “I studied at a university with a big name and a great reputation, and while I enjoyed it there, the quality of teaching I’ve had at FRCC has been comparable. At FRCC, you get one-on-one attention.”
Adjusting to Online Learning
Due to her schedule, online classes worked best for Bronwyn, but when the coronavirus pandemic hit and caused campus to close, her in-person lab class also went online.
“I will admit that I have always preferred in-person learning, and it’s taken some time for me to adjust, but I have been pleased with online classes at FRCC,” she says. “The microbiology lab professor transitioned us really smoothly after COVID-19, and I was glad that I’ve acclimated to online classes in the last year because it made that easier.”
A Fan of the Community College
Before starting at the UC-Berkeley, Bronwyn attended two community colleges in the Bay Area where she grew up. “I didn’t do well in high school and it was largely because I didn’t have a clear goal in mind of what I wanted to do,” she says. “Once I started to figure that out, community college was my second chance to improve my grades and find my motivation.”
As she begins the next chapter in her life and career, she is once again returning to the community college setting to help her get where she wants to go. If accepted into the program, she’ll start working toward the Associate Degree in Nursing at FRCC in the fall. She’s thinking about doing the RN to Bachelor of Science in Nursing too. “My hope is that I can continue to work for the National Park Service in the summers and do nursing in the off season, possibly in the emergency room or as a flight nurse,” she says.
FRCC allows her the freedom to pursue a new path at her pace while balancing other things, Bronwyn adds. “That’s something community colleges and FRCC do really well,” she says “They allow for flexibility and adjustability, as evidenced by their online learning options and the way they support students.”