Scholarship helps CCC student change focus


Wildland firefighter Derek Sausman, with help of Chance Couillard scholarship, works toward Fire Science degree at CCC.



FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – Derek Sausman, as a senior crew member wildland firefighter for the Flagstaff Fire Department, worked the lines during the Museum fire that burned just north of the city this summer. His crew fights fires all over the region during fire season.


With a little help from the Chance Couillard Scholarship, he’ll attending classes this semester at Coconino Community College to attain a Fire Science Degree in the hope of working for a city fire department.


“It’s just one of those things I’ve always wanted to do since I was a little kid,” Sausman said. “I feel like it’s in my blood to do it.”


His aunt was a firefighter and paramedic, and she had a heavy influence on him. Additionally, his wife, Danielle, who is also a graduate of CCC, worked as a paramedic for Guardian Medical Transport and as a flight paramedic down in the Yuma area.


“Being able to give back to the community you live in is important,” Sausman said. “Flagstaff is my home, and anything I can do to give back, it’s something I’d like to do.”


Being a firefighter is hard work that you can be proud of at the end of the day, knowing you gave it your all, Sausman said. Much of the work is unknown and unrecognized, but it makes a difference.


“It’s one of the most challenging things I’ve done in my life,” he said. “It’s always worth it.”


He started firefighting when he was 18, and now, at 34, he’s looking to advance in his career and work for a municipal fire department.


In his thank-you letter to the Couillard family for being selected for the scholarship, Sausman wrote, “This scholarship is not only a huge monetary help, but a great honor, as you have chosen me.”


The scholarship was created in honor of Chance Couillard, who died by suicide. The family, in an effort to move forward with hope, envisioned the scholarship to help CCC students wishing to be first responders like firefighters and paramedics, who dedicate their lives to helping others. In Chance’s last moments, the treatment and care he received by the first responders was a beacon of hope for the Couillard family.


Sausman’s wife, Danielle, knew Chance when she was a soccer coach, and she was also a first responder to Chance’s home that day.


In his letter, Sausman wrote, “I hope that I can make your family proud by carrying on Chance’s spirit and finishing my degree with a 4.0 overall GPA. Knowing that Chance’s memory will forever live on in the Flagstaff fire and first responder community through my service, I’ll wear him on my heart daily.”


The future will include, at some point, a bachelor’s degree in Emergency Management, but not right away, Sausman said. He wants to be a firefighter as long as he can manage it.



Monday, 9th September 2019

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  • Monday, 9th September 2019