By Kathy Jefcoats
RIVERDALE — Clayton County fire Assistant Chief Landry Merkison has won a two-year scholarship during which he plans to study fire science administration.
The scholarship was awarded by Columbia Southern University and Metro Atlanta Fire Chiefs Association. Merkison is an assistant chief at Clayton County Fire and Emergency Services under Jeff Hood. Hood said he supports Merkison's search for knowledge.
"I have always stressed the importance of preparing yourself through continuing education to the men and women of my department," said Hood. "I support Chief Merkison in his efforts to prepare himself for the next phase of his career and applaud the Metro Atlanta Fire Chiefs Association for their support in developing our future chief officers."
Merkison said his "insatiable" quest for advanced knowledge has been lifelong.
"As I look to the future of my career, I realize that I must begin to further prepare myself to assume a future role as chief of the department," he said. "This is a goal that I have had since I started as a firefighter. I must ensure that I have prepared myself to the best of my ability."
Merkison said he developed an inquisitive nature as a young boy, following behind his dad.
"As a young child, I would follow behind my father as he worked as a mechanic into the early morning hours," he said. "He never tired of me asking one question after the next and taught me that I should never rely on others to do what I can learn to do myself."
Merkison said he also learned that with knowledge comes responsibility.
"My dad also taught me that I had a responsibility to pass that knowledge on to others," he said. "It was the lessons learned from those nights in my father's garage that gave me the drive and passion to become a public servant."
The Metro Atlanta Fire Chiefs Association is a learning partner with Columbia Southern University whose members receive a learning partnership grant which allows any employee or member to save 10 percent on tuition and qualify for scholarship opportunities with CSU.
CSU offers online associate, bachelor's, master's and doctoral degree programs in various fields including criminal justice, fire science, occupational safety and health, and business administration.