Alumni Profile: Charles Bowden

Charles Bowden is the youngest Fire Chief in North Carolina, serving as Chief at New Hope Fire Department. His dream to be a career firefighter is carried out at both New Hope and Orange Rural Fire Department (Hillsborough Fire Department). Charles says, “This success is largely attributed to the instruction and leadership I was exposed to while attending The Hill Center.”

While a student at Jordan High School and Hill, Charles began as a volunteer firefighter at New Hope. The next year, he completed the fire academy through Alamance Community College, as well as completing the North Carolina Emergency Medical Responder program. Further, Charles obtained certification as an Emergency Medical Technician in 2011. In 2012, he began work at Orange Rural Fire Department, achieving the rank of Lieutenant in 2016. His other certifications are as a Technical Rescuer, with specialties in high angle rescue, vehicular machinery rescue, confined space rescue, water rescue and trench collapse rescue; leadership management for the fire service through UNC-Charlotte; and most recently as a qualified Level II instructor. On January 1, 2016, Charles was promoted to Captain at New Hope Volunteer Fire Department where he continues to volunteer on his days off from Orange Rural. And now he is the Fire Chief at New Hope.

As he talks about his academic experiences, particularly in high school, Charles says that he had excellent teachers in the Durham Public Schools prior to attending Hill. The major difference was that those earlier teachers could not present material in a manner conducive to his learning style. “School was frustrating before Hill.” Charles continues, “Without a doubt The Hill Center motivated me to learn, and I credit much of the success I’ve had in the fire service to the wonderful teachers I had while attending Hill.”

Charles continues to be in academic settings as he pursues further certification and training as a firefighter. But he returns to his Hill experiences as the beginning of his real learning. “My teachers at Hill encouraged me to be who I am. Through their instruction I saw great examples of leadership, which I try to mimic every day. It is because of Hill that I ever finished high school. It is because of Hill that I am where I am today. I have what I have today, I am what I am today, and I have a love for learning today that I never knew was possible.”

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