With his associate degree in Public Safety Administration from South Piedmont Community College, Dan Beightler will have several options for his career, but his top choice is what he loves doing most: helping his friends and neighbors as a 911 telecommunicator with Union County Emergency Services.
“People call in their most desperate moments. My job is to be that voice of calm and reason, to get them the help they need,” he said.
“It’s very satisfying to help people.”
Beightler grew up in Kentucky and started a degree at a community college there before moving to Monroe in 2005. He took some classes at South Piedmont back then, but it didn’t stick. Instead, he went to work as a 911 telecommunicator — among other things.
“I work — a lot. I have these three pathways I can choose from,” he said.
To take the next step in any of his potential career paths, Beightler decided to re-enroll at South Piedmont. He started classes this summer, becoming the first student to enroll in the College’s Public Safety Administration program. With the credits he’d earned previously and training he’s done for his work as a 911 telecommunicator, he’s already halfway to his associate degree.
“My degree is going to give me the ability to pull levers at all three of my jobs,” he said.
His degree will also allow him to move up within Union County Emergency Services.
“It’s going to help close the gap so that I can support my family while doing what I love,” he said.
“I love the fire service and EMS. I love dispatching. I know most of the fire chiefs, so I know what information they’re going to need and want. I enjoy helping them do their job more efficiently.
Beightler particularly enjoys serving the community in which he lives.
“I have people I’ve helped who will drop off cards in my mailbox to thank me. I have people who will come by just to check up on me. They know me and they know I care about them,” he said.
Wherever his educational journey takes him, Beightler has already learned an important lesson.
“I’m 38. Coming back to school is opening my eyes to the fact you never stop learning,” he said.
“Even at 38, it’s not too late. Coming back to school has reenergized and refocused my mind. It’s motivated me to continue to invest in myself. You should never stop looking forward and pushing the goal post down the field.”
Beightler will impart that lesson to his 13-year-old son.
“By returning to South Piedmont, I’m leading by example,” he said. “I’m showing my son that education is important and that it’s never too late to pursue your dreams.”
Learn more about South Piedmont Community College’s Public Safety Administration program.