Jessie Bartlett, 17, is a Stanwood student in Running Start and a fire explorer through North County Fire. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Jessie Bartlett, 17, is a Stanwood student in Running Start and a fire explorer through North County Fire. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

The fire department is a second home for Stanwood junior

Jessie Bartlett plans to become a third-generation firefighter.

STANWOOD — Jessie Bartlett, 17, is a junior at Stanwood High School who is doing Running Start full-time at Skagit Valley College. She participates in the North County Fire Explorer Post 697, with plans to become a third-generation firefighter and paramedic. She hopes to transfer to Central Washington University to continue her studies.

Q: Why is this the way you want to serve your community?

A: I was raised at home, but I was also raised at the fire department … I’ve seen so many great things that have come with the fire department and also through this explorer program … I loved all the activities, the different subjects they learn and do, and the whole family aspect of it all.

Q: What classes are you taking at the college?

A: English, math and Business 101.

Q: Do you have a favorite book?

A: I don’t love reading. I prefer to write rather than read … When the English teacher assigns us to write something, it’s pretty easy for me to do compared to reading.

Q: What did you like about the high school experience?

A: I loved that I was with all my friends and all the subjects I learned. To be able to be in a class with all your friends.

Q: What’s your GPA?

A: I don’t know it. I know I have 90s in all of my classes, 90s and above.

Q: What interests you about this kind of work?

A: I want to be able to experience being an EMT but also have the experience to be a paramedic and also be able to give medicines and do many more things that can help people. … I’m hoping to be somebody who is supportive, hoping to be there for them, hoping to possibly get them better or save their lives.

Q: What made you want to follow in the footsteps of your dad? (Don Bartlett, the assistant fire chief.)

A: So many things … seeing the steps that he took, how he (advanced professionally), his integrity, his values, all that kind of stuff. To be able to look up to that is awesome because I get to base myself off of that but also create my own story and baseline.

Q: Who are you today?

A: A very happy person, somebody who’s grateful for what she has, grateful for the experiences she’s had.

Q: Anything you want to accomplish this year?

A: I wanted to be captain for the fire explorers and I got it. That was my No. 1 goal. Also to get good grades for the college, and I’m doing that, too.

Q: What challenges in your life have you overcome?

A: I think the beginning of the explorer program was a challenge. I’m this skinny noodle girl that doesn’t have a lot of strength, a lot of muscle. … Everything was really tough. I had to work super hard to get to where the expectation was. To be able to see myself and look back and see how much I’ve grown is crazy. … Another one is getting into the college. It was an interesting rite of trying to get into college and get registered … It was a big challenge and a big leap.

Q: Sometimes people find that it’s a relief to be out of the pageantry of high school. Did you feel that at all?

A: I haven’t had the easiest rite of high school. … I just don’t like the drama of high school. To be able to be going to the college, I just focus on my studies and have friends from the high school flooding in and being able to talk to them. I think it’s a much better environment for me.

Q: What motivates you and inspires you?

A: The many things I’ve learned through the explorer program have not only helped me in the fire service part but also through everyday life. The skills and the education. It is a lifestyle. … Through the fire department, when you are here, everybody around you are your brothers or your sisters …. And being able to be surrounded by that and the type of career that you love is crazy cool. … I’m so grateful for (the program) and the opportunities they’ve given me.

Q: Have you had a job?

A: I babysit. They’re so adorable. They’re twins, they’re 5 or 6 now. They’re super cute and (it’s good) to be able to have the patience … I love hanging out with them, because it just makes me happy. They’re really respectful for 5-year-old girls. I remember making a pillow fort and eating Lay’s under there and they thought it was the coolest thing ever.

Rikki King: 425-339-3449; rking@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @rikkiking.

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