By Cari Tretina

In 1928, more than a fire department was created— a family legacy was born.

Raymond Becker, and other concerned citizens of Fort Mitchell, saw the need for community-supported fire prevention. With help from neighbors, public officials, friends and family, Raymond helped form the Fort Mitchell Fire Department in Northern Kentucky.

Flash-forward 30 years later and Raymond’s son, Ronald, is following his father’s footsteps. Working to protect his fellow citizens and family, Ronald dedicated his life to the firefighting service.

Like his grandfather and father, Doug Becker had the burning desire to keep his community safe and educate others about fire prevention. He, too, became a career firefighter.

The Becker line of service continues today through a student here at Eastern, Kylie Becker. Wanting to save lives and make this country a safer place to live, this Becker has followed down the same path.

There is one difference with this new addition to the Becker firefighting team, however. This aspiring firefighter has the determination of a lion, but the body of a lioness. Kylie Becker will continue her family’s tradition.

Watching her great-grandfather, grandfather and uncle being completely selfless and putting their lives on the line every day made Kylie want to become a career firefighter, as well.

Her path has been significantly different than her predecessors’, though. Women are, sadly, still minorities in many workforces and businesses. The fire service is no different. Kylie is a fire protection administration major. She is currently taking five classes. In three of her classes, there are only two or three other females; Kylie is the only girl in her other two classes.

The lack of her own kind is not the only difference. Kylie has never been personally discriminated, but she has seen other women be looked down upon. Professionals and students alike will make jokes, apply extra pressure and lessen a woman’s duties or responsibilities solely based on the assumption women cannot perform on the level of men in the fire department.

Being constantly judged and treated inferiorly would not only significantly lower my self-esteem, but I would begin to believe these terrible assumptions.

Like myself and most, this overwhelming ratio and treatment would be intimidating and downgrading— Kylie sees it as a challenge. Being a woman firefighter does not mean she needs to live up to everyone’s expectations; she needs to exceed those presumptions.

Kylie wants to prove to her fellow students and family she can do everything and more than men can do. She pushes herself to the limit to get the best grades and obtaining the same physical ability as her peers.

Most importantly, Kylie wants to prove to herself she is capable of the same achievements as men. No matter the situation, fire or issue, Kylie wants to be confident she can handle any problem effectively and efficiently. Knowing people doubt her makes her work even harder.

Kylie has the high possibility of experiencing discrimination; her co-workers may harass her; victims may even doubt her abilities based off something she has no control over.

Speaking personally, if scary and depressing possible outcomes outnumbered the positives in my career choice, I could not pursue it.

All of these possibilities are not new to Kylie. Yet, she couldn’t care less. Kylie was born to be a firefighter. Her one desire in life is to protect the lives of others, and that is exactly what she is going to do.

Kylie Becker’s determination and aspirations truly inspire me. Through the multiple negative a difficult aspects of achieving her goal, she finds the silver lining. Her so-called limitations only make her stronger, and that strength makes me proud to be a woman.