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Veteran Earns Degree While Continuing to Fight Fires in Charlotte

NC State student Chad Hunning has worked as a firefighter for the City of Charlotte Fire Department for 15 years.

Prior to fighting fires, Hunning served in the U.S Navy aboard the U.S.S Boxer.  He was a Petty Officer 3rd Class, Machinist Mate. He’s been serving his nation and community for many years and plans to continue in this line of work for years to come.

“I chose the Leadership in the Public Sector (LPS) program because I believe that this degree will give me a big advantage in the promotional process —to captain and hopefully chief in the future,” Hunning said. With the addition of his degree, he will now be eligible for these promotions.

“Over the rest of my career, I think that my degree will make me a better leader and allow me to be a mentor to future leaders,” Hunning explained.

Hunning has been a huge NC State sports fan since he was a little kid.

“I chose to go into the military after high school, but if I hadn’t, I would have wanted to study at NC State back then,” Hunning said.

Hunning knew taking on-campus classes wouldn’t work with his hectic work schedule and the fact that he lives in Huntersville, North Carolina. Having the program offered through NC State Online and Distance Education pretty much sealed the deal for Hunning.

“The online program is the only way that I would have been able to complete a degree program,” Hunning said. “For those of us who are older and have already started a career and don’t have the ability to sit in classrooms, the online programs are a way for us to continue our education,” Hunning explained.

He said communicating with the online faculty was easy and professors were always engaged with his learning experiences.

In addition working full time and working toward his degree, Hunning is also a full-time dad to two daughters.

“Balancing a full class load was hard at times. Luckily, I was able to work on schoolwork during down times at the firehouse. I did have to sacrifice some time with my daughters. They are very excited about my graduation,” Hunning said. He graduates May 12 and there’s certainly a sense of pride and accomplishment.

“Taking classes online instead of sitting in the classroom does require good organization skills and a lot of self-motivation,” Hunning said. “I don’t think that my experience and the knowledge that I gained was any less than the students who attend the university [on-campus] classes.”

Hunning thinks NC State’s online LPS program is great for anyone in the public service industry, whether they are firefighters like himself, police officers or military personnel. He says the online program is flexible with unconventional schedules.

The LPS program is offered through NC State’s College of Humanities and Social Sciences. In addition to the bachelor’s degree-completion program, there is an undergraduate certificate and a bachelor’s degree specifically for military members and veterans.