Many obstacles stood between Alex Pickup-Crawford and paramedic school, but this semester, the financial obstacle became a little less burdensome for him as he received the second award from the Jesse Stine Memorial Scholarship for Future Paramedics.
Jesse Stine excelled in Polk State’s Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Program and achieved his paramedic certification in 2013. He worked for Manatee County EMS and received the Rookie of the Year accolade for his exceptional service before being promoted to charge paramedic – the highest-level paramedic in the agency. He passed away in 2017 at 24 years old.
Stine’s grandparents, Matthew and Victoria Bodaj, established the memorial scholarship through the Polk State College Foundation to provide aspiring paramedics with financial support as they pursue quality training through Polk State EMS. They were inspired by Pickup-Crawford’s story.
“Paramedic school has been a challenge so far, but I am happy to be finally doing it. I have been looking forward to becoming a paramedic since joining the Lakeland Fire Department in 2016, however, life has presented plenty of challenges to prevent me from doing so,” he wrote in his application. “The great thing is, my family and I have been able to overcome everything thrown our way!”
Early in his career with the Lakeland Fire Department, Pickup-Crawford’s son who was born with a rare genetic condition was scheduled for major surgery.
“I am honored to have received this. I promise to continue to work hard and succeed just as Jesse did.”
“That time came in 2017 when I was supposed to attend paramedic school,” he explained. “I chose the obvious route and that was to care for my son to make sure the next year went as smoothly as possible.”
Then, in 2018, his daughter arrived.
“As you can imagine, it was not in my best interest to sign up for paramedic school… simply due to the fact of having a baby to care for along with my son,” he said. “I felt like that would have been too much work and stress to put on my wife all at once.”
He set his sights on signing up for paramedic school in 2020, then COVID-19 hit.
“I was still determined to participate should there be a chance for a later start or even a start in January of 2021,” he continued. “Those hopes came crashing to an end on the night of June 28, 2020. That’s when I had a traumatic accident that resulted in the amputation of part of a couple of my fingers.”
“Finally, here we are,” Pickup-Crawford concluded, “and I can happily say I’m officially a Polk State paramedic student.”
The Bodajs presented him with the $1,500 scholarship on March 15. The Foundation supplemented this with a $750 scholarship so that Pickup-Crawford’s tuition is fully covered for the Spring 2022 Semester.
They reminisced about Stine who, although Pickup-Crawford didn’t know personally, he has heard great things about through his colleagues and friends who did.
Pickup-Crawford expressed gratitude to the Bodajs, the Polk State Foundation, and the Polk State EMS Program for providing him with resources to succeed in the paramedic program and become the best medic he can be.
“I am honored to have received this,” he shared. “I promise to continue to work hard and succeed just as Jesse did.”