Exemplary FPE Students Recognized
Each year, the Center for Life Safety Education (CLSE) and the American Fire Sprinkler Association (AFSA) come together to award the Philip L. De Camara, Jr. Scholarship, established to honor a man who was dedicated to the fire sprinkler industry. That scholarship awards $7,000 to two exceptional students studying fire protection engineering at the University of Maryland in College Park, De Camara’s alma mater. For the 2018-2019 academic year, those winners are Theresa Weyant and Ella Meredith.
Theresa Weyant The winner of the first place award of $4,000, Theresa Weyant, is a junior studying fire protection engineering (FPE). Weyant says, “When I first applied to UMD, I had no idea what FPE was.” However, after some convincing from a fellow attendee at orientation, Weyant took the dive into an introductory fire protection engineering class. Weyant admits that she was immediately “hooked” but she joined the fire protection engineering program her second semester of freshman year and couldn’t be more loyal to her department now. “Between the small family within the department to all the opportunities as both a student and a working professional, there is always encouragement to succeed,” says Weyant. “I feel like everyone is constantly working to grow the profession.”
Weyant carries her passion for her department outside of the classroom as well and into outreach. She currently works as a fire protection engineering student ambassador, a role she took on as soon as she joined the department. Dr. James A. Milke, professor and chair at the University of Maryland Department of Fire Protection Engineering, was amazed by Weyant: “[Weyant] approached us to be involved that way during the spring of her freshman year. I rarely see this level of motivation among the first-year students. It’s evident she’s highly committed to the department and discipline of fire protection,” says Dr. Milke.
And highly motivated Weyant is! In her role as an ambassador, she is responsible for helping the department to recruit and retain students. She leads tours, gives presentations, allows prospective students to shadow her, and much more. “I love building those connections and sharing my passion for FPE with others,” says Weyant of her experience as an ambassador.
Weyant was also nominated by Dr. Kenneth E. Isman, PE, FSFPE, clinical professor at the University of Maryland Department of Fire Protection Engineering who highlighted Weyant’s involvement with recruitment efforts on campus, as well as her willingness to participate in department activities in and out of the classroom. “There is no doubt in my mind that she is helping prospective students to select fire protection engineering as a major, and helping their parents in understanding why that is a good decision,” notes Dr. Isman. “Her work is paying off with the number of undergraduate students in the department rising steadily.”
In her spare time, Weyant stays involved all over campus. She cites that an important part of her experience during her time so far at University of Maryland has been involvement in many different campus-life activities. “I began my leadership involvement my sophomore year of college, when I was elected president of the Flexus Living and Learning Community for Women in Engineering.” Since then, Weyant has held leadership positions in six other groups, found time to participate in intramural sports, and was the president of the Maryland equestrian team. Weyant credits her ability to be able to be so involved on campus to “receiving scholarships like the De Camara scholarship which has allowed me to take all the extracurricular opportunities that have come my way.”
Ella Meredith The second place prize of $3,000 is awarded to Ella Meredith, a senior fire protection engineering major. Meredith chose to pursue fire protection engineering because of “the uniqueness in comparison to other engineering disciplines, as well as how much I related to the major.” Meredith shares that she grew up with my dad serving the community as a volunteer firefighter. This gave Meredith the unique opportunity to “see firsthand how destructive fire were to her community.” She credits her early knowledge of fires and fire safety, as well as a long-time passion for math and science, specifically in engineering as her motivation for joining the school.
Much like Weyant, Meredith immerses herself in the fire protection engineering community at the University of Maryland. She notes, “Because [the department] is so small, I have met my best friends through the major, gotten to know my advisor very well, and formed personal connections with many of those in the department, which is uncommon at a university of this size.” She credits her ongoing success in her major to the “support of my classmates and professors. I believe all faculty and staff truly want to get to know you and see you succeed.”
Joining the department as a sophomore, Meredith maintains a strong dedication to staying involved in any way she can. She is a member of the Society of Fire Protection Engineers (SFPE) Student Chapter. After being a member for just one year, she ran and served as the secretary of the chapter during her junior year. In her senior year, Meredith has continued her commitment to leadership by serving as president of the Salamander Fire Protection Honor Society. Meredith says this leadership role not only allows her to help others through student leadership, but also gives the opportunity to “be able to make connections with the alumni who are now active in the field.”
Also nominated by Dr. Milke and Dr. Isman, they take pride in Meredith’s “highly engaged and very ambitious attitude.” Dr. Milke points out her dedication saying, “she applies herself fully, which I’m sure will serve her well in entering the fire protection engineering profession.” Dr. Isman echoes the sentiment, noting that “Ella has demonstrated excellent leadership skills while working within groups, guiding them to a well-thought-out analysis and design on their projects.”
In addition to her hard work in the academically at University of Maryland, Meredith took the opportunity to explore outside the traditional classroom and to study abroad in Sweden last semester at Lund University. Meredith says the experience was an “amazing experience that provided the opportunity to meet fire protection engineering students all over the world.”
When not in class Meredith stays active on campus as a member of the club gymnastics team, as well as staying highly involved in her sorority. Meredith is grateful to have been awarded the second place prize. “It is truly a great honor,” she says.
The Philip L. De Camara, Jr. Scholarship was established in 1984. The scholarship is funded through donations by individuals and companies. To find out more about the program or to support the scholarship with your tax-deductible donation, visit CLSE.org/scholarships.
“Grenfell Tower Fire,” London, UK On June 14, 2017, a fire broke out in the 24-story Grenfell Tower block of flats in North Keningston, West London, UK. The Grenfell Tower fire is the worst United Kingdom (UK) residential fire since World War II, causing 72 deaths.
Jefferson Muncy, the son of former AFSA President Steve Muncy, has painted a memorial to those who lost their lives in this fire. These limited-edition prints are available to individuals and companies donating to the Philip L. De Camara, Jr. Scholarship. With a donation of $150 or more, donors will receive a 13-in. x 19.5-in. print (one of 100 total prints), signed and numbered. Or, for a donation of $250 or more, donors receive an 16-in. x 24-in. signed and numbered print (also one of 100 total prints). With appreciation, we welcome all donations of any amount should donors choose not to receive a print.
Your tax-deductible donations help students attain their educational goals and professional dreams while positively impacting the fire protection industry. Supporting the De Camara Scholarship Fund is greatly appreciated by the winners, their families, and the De Camara family. Remember, as CLSE is a 501(c)(3) educational affiliate of AFSA, all contributions made to these scholarship funds are tax-deductible.
To make a one-time donation or become a regular donor, visit CLSE online at clse. org and click on “Scholarships” or mail a check to De Camara Scholarship, c/o CLSE, 12750 Merit Dr., Suite 350, Dallas, Texas 75251. For more information or to apply, visit clse.org/scholarships.htm.