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Melissa Spielman

UWO Student Earns First-of-its-kind Scholarship for Female Firefighters

Spielman Photo*Since the publication of this story, Spielman has graduated from UW Oshkosh with a BAS in Fire and Emergency Response Management.

OSHKOSH, Wis. (Oct. 7, 2009) – The first recipient of a scholarship for firefighters pursuing a bachelor’s degree has been awarded to a former classmate of the memorial scholarship’s namesake.

Melissa Spielman, a student at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh and a firefighter/paramedic with the Green Bay Fire Department, was awarded the Candice E. Tylke Scholarship, named in honor of a 1994 UW Oshkosh graduate and veteran firefighter/paramedic, who passed away in 2008 at the age of 42

Spielman and Tylke were classmates in Madison Area Technical College’s fire science program. Today, Spielman is working toward a Bachelor of Applied Studies in Fire and Emergency Response Management (FERM). UW Oshkosh is the only university in Wisconsin to offer this program.

“She was an inspiration,” said Spielman of Tylke. “I am thankful to her for showing me the courage and determination that it takes to do this job.”

The Candice E. Tylke Scholarship is a $1,500 annual award for students in the FERM program at UW Oshkosh’s Center for New Learning. Priority is given to female applicants.

Melissa Spielman Video

Beginning October 1, 2009, any firefighter participating in the U.S. Fire Administration’s National Fire Academy Executive Fire Officer Certification Program will be required to have attained a minimum of a bachelor’s degree as part of the selection criteria for the program.

The two-year FERM program, which incorporates online and classroom instruction, provides fire and emergency personnel with leadership and administrative skills necessary to advance their careers and lead public health and safety organizations. Participants must have completed an associate degree in fire protection, fire science, paramedic technician or emergency management to enroll in the FERM program.

“After researching many different options, I found that UW Oshkosh had the best program for my learning needs,” Spielman, 34, of Green Bay, said. “Most of the classes are online or a combination of online and face-to-face, allowing me to easily coordinate my work and school schedule. I also was granted additional credits for transferring classes from my previous associate degree.”

Spielman has been an emergency medical technician since 1996 and became certified as a firefighter in 1997. After a firefighter/paramedic internship with the Town of Madison, she was hired by the City of Green Bay Fire Department as a firefighter and paramedic. She expects to graduate in 2010 and plans to pursue a master’s degree in emergency management.

“The FERM program is giving me the tools necessary to succeed in the management environment,” Spielman said. “I look forward to using what I learn in this program to manage a division, section or department in the future.”

Currently, 38 students are enrolled in the FERM bachelor’s degree program. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the number of emergency management specialists of all kinds will grow faster than the average for all occupations between 2004 and 2014, adding more than 2,300 jobs over the decade.

The Center for New Learning at UW Oshkosh offers accelerated bachelor’s degree opportunities for adult students in nontraditional delivery formats. With evening, online and hybrid courses designed for busy adults, CNL offers academic programs that utilize adult learning strategies and reflect a student-centered philosophy.

The University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, with an enrollment of more than 13,000 students from across the state and beyond, is the third-largest university in Wisconsin. Supporting the institution’s 138-year tradition of leadership and innovation, including liberal education reform, UW Oshkosh’s respected faculty members lead the state with the most UW System Board of Regents Teaching Excellence Awards. The University offers 75 baccalaureate and graduate degree programs in the colleges of Business, Education and Human Services, Letters and Science, and Nursing, which will offer the University’s first doctorial degree (Doctorate of Nursing Practice) in fall 2010. Serving as an educational and cultural anchor for the 1.2 million residents of northeastern Wisconsin, UW Oshkosh champions the economic well-being of the New North with an annual $501 million impact, directly and indirectly creating 9,000 jobs. A pioneer in campus sustainability, UWO became the first Fair Trade University in the nation in 2008. For an institutional overview and statistics, visit

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For more information about the Green Bay Fire Department, click here.


For more information about UW Oshkosh, the FERM program or this student profile or to set up an interview, contact Jaime Hunt at    (920) 424-1398  or

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