Student Spotlight: Craig Benjamin Johnson '15M.S.

Fire Science

Craig Benjamin Johnson 
I obtained an internship with FDNY's Bureau of Fire Investigations. Being from California, this opportunity was the rarest of rare.
About Craig

I earned my bachelor’s degree in Fire Science.

Why did you choose to pursue your graduate degree at the University of New Haven?

Change is slow within the fire service system. So, in order to be able to become a good role model and take on a higher-ranking position, I knew I needed to stand out and make an impact, which meant pursuing an advanced degree.

Describe the best class and/or professor you have experienced at the University of New Haven.

Both the classes and professors are equally great. The professors that stand out the most to me are Peter Struble, Bruce Varga and Nelson Dunston. Peter Struble offers great classes about the future of fire service through studying new ideas and technologies. Bruce Varga is a great fire investigations educator, and is very supportive of the internship process. He diligently encourages and helps students find an internship. Nelson Dunston teaches fire chemistry and offers a clear approach to the problems, while creating a comfortable atmosphere for his students.

What have you learned or experienced in your program that would be interesting for those entering the program?

I obtained an internship with FDNY's Bureau of Fire Investigations. Being from California, this opportunity was the rarest of rare. It allowed me to experience both Fire Marshall and firefighter duties within the biggest city and department in the United States. If not for the University of New Haven, I would have never been able to apply for the one of only three positions posted. Peter Struble was the Chief of Wallingford Fire Department when I first began my studies at the University of New Haven. During class, he recruited me to be a part of his Volunteer Fire Department. Not only did this opportunity help me network with new people, but it allowed me to practice firefighting skills daily through training and 911 emergencies. My entire experience at the University of New Haven has been the best thing that has ever happened to me, and my career. As long as a student is willing and motivated, he or she will have a life- and career-changing experience.

How is your degree at the University of New Haven going to help you reach your goals?

My resume is now up there with the best of them. I have fire experience from different parts of the country, including working with major fire departments like Los Angeles and New York City. The Master’s degree program alone is the only one of its kind in the country, and has triggered more interest amongst prospective students than I could have imagined. Also, job opportunities from all over the country are presenting themselves much more often.

Describe an especially positive experience you have had outside of the classroom, perhaps with a student organization, during the admission process, or with an office such as Career Services.

As a student who moved myself across the country into the unknown, I can say with confidence that this was the right choice for me. From the friends I made, experiences I had, the fire departments I was able to work with, and of course, the school itself, has all given me a sense of self-fulfillment. I have had the chance to make an impact, not only with myself, but with strangers and those within my inner circle. Nearing the completion of my degree I realized that the means justified the end, without a doubt.