Chargers Power Couple Dedicates Their Lives to Serving Others
As a firefighter and forensic scientist, respectively, Andrew Dinkel ’01 and Connie (Amato) Dinkel ’03, ’05 M.S. have the careers they’d dreamed of since they were kids. They say they owe much of their success to their time at the University.
October 21, 2020
By Renee Chmiel, Office of Marketing and Communications
When Andrew Dinkel ’01 was growing up, he dreamed of becoming a firefighter with the New York City Fire Department. He is now doing just that – and saving lives.
Recently, Dinkel and his fellow firefighters were called to West 78th Street off Broadway, where two workers were trapped 10 stories up after their scaffolding collapsed. They were clutching their harnesses and hanging onto a window ledge. After rescuing one of them, firefighters had to go up on the roof, and it was Dinkel who propelled down to rescue the second worker. Everyone made it down safely.
“Helping people when they are in need is one of the most satisfying parts of this job,” said Dinkel, who earned a degree in arson investigation. “It is what we train for day and night, and it feels great when you do it well. Our success that day is a direct result of the team we get to work with, men and women who you know will stop at nothing to accomplish the mission.”
‘It is an incredible feeling to help people’
As a kid, Dinkel looked up to his godfather, a volunteer firefighter in North Lindenhurst, New York. Interested in a career as a firefighter, Dinkel visited the University of New Haven with his entire family, and, before long, he knew he’d found his home for the next four years. He says it was the only school to which he applied.
“The last 17 years with the FDNY have been an absolute pleasure,” said Andrew. “I feel incredibly fortunate to have achieved my dream. It is an incredible feeling to help people in their most vulnerable moments, but working with the other members of the department to accomplish our mission is the most satisfying part.”
As a student, Dinkel was an active member of the University community, serving as a resident assistant in Bixler Hall, a member of the University’s Fire Science Club, and president of the Undergraduate Student Government Association. A member of Students Making an Impact on their Living Environment (SMILE), he and several classmates helped revitalize the University’s German Club. He enjoyed being a part of what he says was a “close-knit community.”
'I knew I was in the right place'
One of his classmates, Connie (Amato) Dinkel ’03, ’05 M.S., is now his wife of 14 years. They met when she was a first-year student – Andrew was a resident assistant in her residence hall.
Now a forensic scientist, Connie is the quality manager for the Suffolk County Crime lab in Hauppauge, New York. She became interested in forensic science when she was in high school.
“I was intrigued by the aspects of the job that included investigating what actually happened at a scene,” said Connie, who majored in forensic science and earned her master’s degree in labor relations. “Once I discovered what the University of New Haven offered and I went to see the campus, I knew I was in the right place. As a forensic scientist, going out to crime scenes to help those who cannot help themselves is what I enjoy the most about my job.”
'Contributed to the person I am today'
Also a former USGA president, Connie served as a resident assistant as well, and she was a member of the University’s forensic science and chemistry club. She says she’s grateful for the relationships she made at the University, and for the guidance of her faculty mentors.
“Working with and being taught by professors who were actually in the field prepared me for what to expect while in the lab doing casework and going to scenes,” she said. “I think that without the hands-on training and the experience I had at the University, I wouldn't have been as prepared for what I encounter on a daily basis.”
The parents of a daughter, Madalyn, and son, Ean, Andrew and Connie now live in Sayville, New York. Many of their closest friends are their former classmates.
“The attributes I gained from living at the University of New Haven for four years directly contributed to the person I am today,” said Andrew. “The University means more to me than just where I attended college. I met people there who I will never forget for as long as I live, and I am thankful for the time I had at the University.”