Throughout childhood, most people don’t know what they want to be when they grow up. The same can’t be said for Wasylik, a 2018 Lakeland firefighter training
grad, who says she always knew she wanted a selfless career.
“I have little books that I wrote in kindergarten and in those books, it outlined our goals and what we wanted to be when we grew up. All through mine, I wanted to be either a firefighter or police officer,” she says.
Wasylik remembers touring the Emergency Training Centre
as a kindergartener at Vermilion Elementary School. She says she learned about fire prevention and safety, and handled firefighting equipment such as fire hoses and extinguishers.
“I remember the activities like shooting the fire hoses at targets, climbing under tables to reenact smoke evasion, and ever since then I wanted to do something good for the world,” she says. Although she doesn’t remember her instructor Alan
Jones as the tour guide at that time, she says he remembered her and reintroduced himself on her first day of school.
“For as long as I can remember, I knew I wanted to go to Lakeland and I know I made the right decision. It's hard being a woman going into a male-dominated industry but my instructors were very supportive. Even being the only girl in the whole platoon, I liked the challenge. I am coming out of this place constantly wanting to be better, which is what this place has taught me.”
Spending the majority of her adolescent years in Vermilion, Wasylik says Lakeland always fascinated her and was the school she knew she wanted to attend. She added that her family’s rich history with the college might have had some weight in her decision as well.
Her great-great-grandmother Ada Viola(Armstrong) Maggs was in the first home economics class; her grandmother Bev Strome completed interior design; her dad Michael took carpentry; her mom Darcy took university transfer and later was an office administration instructor; and her sister Jessie completed business. Numerous aunts, uncles and cousins took Lakeland programming throughout the years.
Before attending Lakeland, Wasylik earned an emergency medical responder (EMR) credential at the Alberta Health and Safety Training Institute in Calgary. She’s contemplating updating her EMR to an emergency medical technician or converting her firefighter credential to Australia’s firefighting standards. “I’m only 19 so I want to travel as much as I can before settling at a fire department. I think going to Australia would be a fun adventure,” she says.
Photos: (Top-Bottom) Jenna Wasylik participating in a firefighting exercise at the Emergency Training Centre. Jenna Wasylik and Alan Jones, firefighting training instructor. Jenna Wasylik taking a break from class on a demo vehicle.