NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – He’s been fighting fires in Nashville for 11 years. But now, Edwin Feagins Jr., is one degree hotter after securing his diploma from Tennessee State University this week.
Feagins of Nashville, received a bachelor’s degree in human performance sports sciences with a concentration in exercise sciences. A milestone that he was once told that he couldn’t accomplish. After graduating high school from Pope John Paul II Preparatory School in Hendersonville, he began his higher education journey at The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga (UTC) in 2007.
Feagins started off his first semester of college with a .7 GPA.
“My freshman year of college was a lot of newfound freedom and responsibility,” Feagins says. “I wasn’t a focused student at the time. And I was told by my advisor that four years of college isn’t for everyone.” Feagins said he was placed on academic suspension shortly after. But he knew he was capable of walking the stage eventually. Feagins re-enrolled at UTC and continued his studies there for three years, until he was accepted into the Nashville Fire Training Academy in 2011.
Feagins, 33, says his grandmother, who is a former Memphis educator, was proud of him for being a fireman, but told him to finish what he started by graduating college.
“I wanted to fulfill that promise for her,” he says.
Feagins received his associates of applied science degree in fire science at Volunteer State Community College in 2014. Four years later, he enrolled at TSU. “I went searching for that newfound freedom (at UTC) but in retrospect, I should have leaned on my resources that I had available to me right here at home,” Feagins says. “I am excited and extremely grateful for the opportunity to even attend TSU.”
It was difficult being a non-traditional student while sometimes working 24-hour shifts, but he kept faith and believed in himself, Feagins says, graduating with a 3.3 GPA.
He noted that he had instructors at the university like Dr. Jason Smith, that kept him going. “His passion is beyond the degree,” says Smith, the department chair of the human performance and sports sciences department. “The degree was important for him to continue giving back to the community. Edwin has devoted a lot of his time to the community and to people that are in need,” Smith continued.
“He has a servant heart.”
Smith says that Feagins has extended his services by becoming an adjacent professor next semester, teaching CPR courses at the university.
District Chief of the Nashville Fire Department Moses Jefferies IV describes Feagins as a hard worker who has been a ‘tremendous asset’ to the fire department.
“Along with his work, he has shown dedication and a level of commitment that is consistent with the Nashville Fire Department to prepare its members physically to be able to do the job and deliver the best service possible to the citizens,” Jefferies says.
“He’s just really a great guy.”
In the near future, Feagins says he looks forward to creating health initiatives centered around fire fighter fitness with wellness and health disparities.