Gregory Vigneaux '13

B.S., Wildland Fire Management

If I’d gone somewhere else, I probably wouldn’t be working toward my masters right now.

Designing A Unique Degree

For an unorthodox student like Gregory Vigneaux, being given the opportunity to direct his own education at Anna Maria has taken him places in life that he never would have imagined for himself. Greg had tried out a number of different majors at a local community college, but nothing stuck. So he took some time off from school to fight wildfires in California for one season, among other things. When he came back East to begin undergraduate studies in emergency services at Anna Maria, Greg found his interest in fighting wildfires rekindled through interactions with the fire protection faculty and students.

Although Anna Maria doesn’t offer a degree in wildfire management, the school was willing to let Greg combine his interests in environmental and fire science to design his own major in wildland fire management.

“I put in a lot of work, and I was a good student. The school saw my potential and gave me the opportunity to direct my education.”

Gregory’s career after Anna Maria has brought him back to fighting wildfires out west, and he is working on a Master of Science in Emergency Services Administration at California State University, Long Beach. His current goals are to work with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and get into researching operational/logistics for emergency management. He credits Anna Maria with changing his way of thinking and fueling his desire to shift from frontline firefighting to researching social consequences of current policies and advocating for changes that would balance ecological benefit with human needs.

“If I’d gone somewhere else, I probably wouldn’t be working toward my masters right now. I never thought I would even get an undergraduate degree, and here I am completing a masters and considering a Ph.D. Anna Maria gave me a desire to look so much further beyond what I’d ever cared to do. It’s inspired me to keep going in life and in school and to better myself.”