14:45 PM

Riverside’s Kodat is Paying it Forward

By Dan Silvia, Communications Manager

What does paying it forward mean to you? Sometimes, it can be picking up the tab of the customer behind you in the drive-through line at your local Starbucks (never a bad idea, by the way). For Craig Kodat, it means sharing the knowledge he has picked up over two decades spent in the fire service field and through the two degrees he has earned at Bellevue University.

CraigKodatKodat, a Captain with the City of Riverside, California Fire Department, is paying that knowledge forward as an Adjunct Instructor for Riverside Community College District. A position he started in September 2017.

“I’ve worked 25 years in the fire service and gained a lot of experience,” Kodat said. “It’s time for me to share that with the next generation. I teach leadership and ethics, it’s a perfect match with my profession and experience, and, of course, my education from Bellevue University.”

Kodat earned a Bachelor of Arts in Corporate Communications in 2005 and followed up with a Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership in 2007. As a captain, Kodat supervises a crew of firefighters in both emergency and non-emergency situations.

“My job, in its simplest form, is to be a problem-solver,” Kodat said. “The education I got at Bellevue helped mold me into who I am today. Both the communications and leadership degrees are a direct fit into my job roles and responsibilities.”

While the community of Riverside has managed to evade many or most of the major wildfires and floods that have plagued Southern California in recent months, Kodat did assist in other locations serving as a Public Information Officer in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties. He spent sixteen days away from home during the Thomas Fire, the largest wildfire in modern California history

“I met with community members from Montecito and Santa Barbara on a daily basis, and provided them with current fire information and how that information directly related to them,” Kodat said. “I helped organize and facilitate community meetings and conducted numerous live TV interviews for several networks. The education from my communications degree provided valuable skills I was able to utilize for that fire assignment.”

A lifelong Californian, research led Kodat to Bellevue University when he began searching for a school from which to continue his education.

“I shopped around for universities and when I found Bellevue I determined it was a good fit for me and my educational goals,” he said. “I had a lot of college units from a lot of local junior colleges that I was able to get credit for. Bellevue accepted a lot of my transfer units.”

Once enrolled, Kodat found the format much to his liking.

“The platform was perfect for the working adult. I had great instructors who were current on trending topics and made each assignment relate to me and my work place,” he said. “Application of the curriculum made learning it more enjoyable as well as relevant.”

In addition to his Bellevue University education, Kodat has also completed the Executive Fire Officer Program at the National Fire Academy, graduating in 2014.

So whether it is in his role as a Fire Captain or as an adjunct instructor for “Riverside Community College, Kodat is paying it forward.

“For me, it’s about community service and being engaged in my community,” he said. “I work for the city where I grew up and where I continue living. Public safety is something I hold in high regard.”