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WC Spotlight - Kurt Harris

Name:  Kurt Harris
Hometown:  Weatherford
Years at WC: 1966-67, 1967-68
What course of study did you follow?  General Studies because I planned on a career in architecture, but went into the military instead. I ended up going to the fire department upon my return which was one of the biggest blessings of my life.
What was your post WC school/training?  After my military education, which was as a “Senior Aircraft Armament Maintenance Engineer” (I was in charge of all weapons installed on any helicraft used by military.) and then returning to take a job with the Weatherford Fire Department, my professional life was never without continuing education. I had to become a Certified Fire Fighter, then a Certified Fire Instructor (which WC assisted me with way back in the ‘70s), EMT Certification (also came from WC), Certified Fire Investigator and Peace Officer Certification. Those are all basic certs. Then I went on to advanced certifications in all of those disciplines and many others like Hazardous Materials, Bomb Tech etc.  
What is your current job?  I am currently the Assistant Parker County Fire Marshal. I have been in the fire service 45 years, 30+ as fire marshal which includes 26 years as Weatherford Fire Marshal, three years with Texas State Fire Marshal’s Office including two of those years as Assistant State Fire Marshal over Inspections and approaching two years here with Parker County as Fire Marshal.
What is the best part of your job?  People. A large portion of my job puts me into situations where people are stressed and in need, and I enjoy being there for them. Whether it is an inspection where I have to deliver what they would consider “bad” news or emergencies where a citizen(s) is facing a critical moment in their life such as a fire or medical emergency. Trying to be a part of the solution during one of the most trying times in their lives can be very rewarding and one I take seriously.

How did your time at WC contribute to your success?  While at WC my freshman year, I was elected as the class president which was the beginning of my realization that life was not all about taking but giving. That time at WC was soon followed up by my military time when again, I was thrust into a leadership role which was much easier for me to acclimate to because of my time at WC. After returning from the military I became a Weatherford firefighter but was appointed as Captain in my fourth year there which was a Chief’s position and without those other leadership opportunities in my life, I would have never had the credentials to be considered for Captain. All of these together launched my career as Fire Marshal! 

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Would you suggest WC to others?  Without hesitation I would advise anybody who was considering furthering their education, either out of high school or those reinventing their lives, to look into WC as an option. Smaller classes, great instructors, wide ranging curriculum, tremendous staff, wonderful city as well as financial savings are all established reasons for the belief that WC is an outstanding choice for higher education. 
What is your biggest achievement in life, so far?  Other than the obvious, my wife Patty, my children and my faith, I think it would be the honor of having the Lifetime Achievement Award not only given to me by the City of Weatherford but graciously naming it after me! I said from the beginning of my adult life that whatever I did as a career, I simply wanted to finish it with no regrets and with honor. This award gives me hope that I might have accomplished that in spite of all of my mistakes in life.
What is your favorite memory of your time at WC?  The lifelong friends I made while there including many of the staff/faculty and the fact that those two years were a turning point in my life.
Did you have a favorite instructor or staff member?  I have two that made a serious impact on my life. Coach Rod Embry and Dean McClung both poured into me long after those two years there. I had the privilege of also going to church with them and saw a light in them that was real. They loved the student body, their job and their Lord and therefore not only changed my outlook on life, but helped change my eternity. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Arthur Stockstill who came later to WC but who assisted me in my continuing education and my belief that life is truly an opportunity. 
How would you describe your ability to make living based off of your WC education?  For me, WC was huge in my career. Not only those first two years but the continuing education that was made available to the staff at the City of Weatherford before there was money set aside to go to other cities to receive the necessary education to meet the demands of the state and before computers offered distance learning. Example, when WC tackled the very detailed and expensive task of setting up one of the first Emergency Medical Technology programs. WC’s EMT course educated hundreds of paid and volunteer EMT’s throughout the North Central Texas area that eventually assisted/saved hundreds of lives in the local six-plus county area west of Tarrant County.
How important was affordability when choosing to attend WC?  It is extremely important that this component of WC be considered. When anyone hears of the student loan debt that has paralyzed so many families in our country and kept them from enjoying the life they are working hard for then all options need to be examined. The cost of attending WC as compared to even the state schools is so much less, and, additionally, because of the growth of the local economy, jobs are relatively easy to find in the Weatherford area for a student to help pay for the WC tuition. It is truly a win-win: great education at a great price.
How would you describe the individual attention you received at WC?  The attention I received was precisely what I needed. It was less then I received in high school but so much more then I was to receive when I moved forward to the four year institution. i.e. – The perfect “stepping stone” for the student that might not be mature enough to handle all of the stress and responsibility that comes with the large institution.

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