FSSA Educational Foundation 2019-2020 Scholarship Recipients

Each year, the Foundation provides financial support to outstanding young students connected with the fire protection industry to help them meet their ever-rising cost of a college education. The FSSA Educational Foundation is pleased to announce the following recipients of scholarships for 2019 - 2020:

  • $5,000 scholarship in the name of Chuck Hooper - Leigh Kelly, Oklahoma State University
  • $5,000 scholarship in the name of Bernie Bischoff - David Morrisset, California Polytechnic State University
  • $2,500 scholarship in the name of Jim Boyer - Thomas Rotello, University of Maryland
  • $2,500 scholarship - Amy Ko, California Polytechnic State University
  • $2,000 scholarship - Roberto Aguilar, University of Maryland, College Park

More about our Winners . . .

$5,000 Scholarship in the name of Chuck Hooper
Leigh Kelly, Oklahoma State University

Leigh Kelly is currently a senior at Oklahoma State University, studying Fire Protection and Safety Engineering Technology and minoring in Fire and Emergency Management. This past summer he interned with Jacobs Engineering Group in Conshohocken, PA. This semester he plans on taking  Fundamentals of Engineering exam and graduating with his GSP and EMT in the spring. After graduation, he would like to pursue a career in fire protection and safety consulting/engineering.

In his spare time at school, he competes with the Firefighter Combat Challenge, serves as the Vice President to the OSU Fire Protection Society, and the Secretary for the student SFPE chapter. Leigh also participates with the OSU Practical Shooting Club. At home, in Pennsylvania, Leigh has been an active volunteer firefighter for five years and a mentor to Jr. Firefighters. Leigh intends to continue his participation in the volunteer fire service wherever his career takes him.

$5,000 Scholarship in the name of Bernie Bischoff
David Morrisset, California Polytechnic State University

David graduated from the California Polytechnic State University – San Luis Obispo with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering in December 2018, and is currently enrolled in the Fire Protection Engineering M.S program at Cal Poly. He has worked as an intern with Jensen Hughes in the Los Angeles area for the summers of 2017 and 2018, and also worked in the Los Angeles Arup office in the summer of 2019. David spent the winter of 2019 working as a research assistant at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, running various experiments with the UoE Fire Safety Research group. As a Cal Poly student, David is currently involved with multiple research projects on campus; namely investigating the ignition and self-extinction of structural timber. David spent most of this last school year fabricating and repairing equipment to be used in the newly operational Cal Poly Fire Lab. Upon graduating, he will be the first student in seven years to produce an experimental Master’s thesis in the Cal Poly FPE program.

$2,500 Scholarship in the name of Jim Boyer
Thomas Rotello, University of Maryland, College Park

Thomas Rotello is a sophomore at the University of Maryland-College Park studying Fire Protection Engineering. He is originally from Upstate New York. Thomas first  became interested in the fire service in high school and joined his local volunteer department. He knew that he wanted to continue his career in the fire service, in addition to volunteering.

Outside of class, he is involved with the Knights of Columbus, NFPA Ambassadors, Terrapin Works Machine Shop, and CPVFD, where he  will be training to become an EMT this semester.


$2,500 Scholarship
Amy Ko, California Polytechnic State University

Amy grew up in East Los Angeles, raised by Chinese immigrant parents. She currently works at Link-Nilsen Corporation, a fire sprinkler contractor as a Fire Sprinkler Design Technician, while attending Cal Poly SLO’s online Fire Protection Engineering Masters program. After working 9 years in marketing for the architecture and engineering firms, it is never too late for a career change. With a B.A. in Environmental Design from UC Irvine, then originally pursuing interior design, Amy went back to school in her early 30s and completed in UCLA Extension’s vigorous certificate in Interior Design.

Amy developed a passion for Revit software and Navis Manage and decided to be one of the best technical users of these in-demand softwares. She got a call one day from a recruiter looking for a Revit professional to work in a fire sprinkler contractor. It didn’t sound glamorous at first, but she decided to give sprinklers a try, working with great people, the ability of being close to friends and family, and easy commute.

She is trained by some of the best fire sprinkler experts in the Los Angeles area. Amy is working on projects such as a new 3-story neuroscience research lab building for California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and Metropolitan Transit Authority Los Angeles Purple Line subway stations in Beverly Hills and Century City.

In her spare time, she likes to hike and do yoga as well as participate in hiking trail maintenance or clean up activities and volunteer at the annual Foothill Unit Center Monrovia which helps low income families with free health exams, clothing, shoes, school supplies, haircuts, career growth services to students age K-12. Amy is fluent in Cantonese Chinese and learned Mandarin in 2010 (it’s a continuous process), and some Spanish.

She recently accepted a position at Jensen Hughes San Diego to learn other aspects (smoke management, life safety, fire alarm etc.) and grow as a future fire protection engineer.

Encouragement to women/girls who don’t have confidence to pursue male dominated fields such as engineering or the fire suppression industry: “Its ok to fail (such as calculus class in high school), just try again. It may take longer, but you will get there.”

$2,000 Scholarship
Roberto Aguilar, University of Maryland, College Park

Roberto Carlos Aguilar is a 20 year old Junior at the University of Maryland, College Park, studying Fire Protection Engineering at the A. James Clark School of Engineering. Roberto is a transfer student from Montgomery College located in Rockville, Maryland where he obtained his Associates of Science in fire protection engineering. As a hobby, he likes to work out, preferably running and produce music. He is a first-generation college student and plans to pursue a master's degree after the completion of his bachelors. After completing his degree he plans on taking the first of two exams that engineers must pass to be  licensed as a Professional Engineer in the United States. That exam is the Fundamentals of Engineering Examination. Roberto completed an internship at Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in the summer of 2018 where he taught students from the DMV area from grades 6th to 12th about engineering. Roberto is a member of the Student Chapter of the Society of Fire Protection Engineers and a part of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE). 


View Past Recipients