St. Thomas Aquinas College Signs Tuition Scholarship Agreement to Help Boost Recruitment of Local Volunteer Firefighters

St. Thomas Aquinas College is proud to announce a partnership with its community fire department to offer tuition scholarships to volunteers who become firefighters at the Sparkill- Palisades Fire Department.

The agreement was signed in October 2023 at the Sparkill-Palisades Fire Department by Kenneth Daly, President of St. Thomas Aquinas College and John Bruen of The John Paulding Engine Company, Inc. “The importance of a college education is greater now than ever and we are committed to providing access to affordable education in order to help change the lives of dedicated volunteers in our local community,” said Daly.

According to Mike Yannazzone, Acting Chief of Sparkill-Palisades Fire Department, back in August, he met with Mike DiBartolomeo, Vice President for Enrollment Management at St. Thomas Aquinas College, who indicated that the College was interested in creating an agreement that would provide scholarships for a 50% tuition discount to any volunteer firefighter in good standing, and a 25% discount to their spouses, children or grandchildren. Yannazzone stated, “This is, by far, one of the most significant incentive programs developed by a private organization in the interests of volunteer firefighter recruitment in Rockland County.”

It is well known that the model and structure of the Rockland County fire service, and residually the level of efficiency in which they provide services, have been in danger because of low enrollment of volunteer firefighters for some time. The Rockland Fire Preservation Task Force, an independent and unaffiliated advocacy group formed in late 2022, has recently been making a concerted effort and push to various organizations throughout the County (particularly fire district governing boards and associations). The purpose: to raise significant awareness about volunteer firefighter staffing and department/district models contributing to the present- day decline of efficient and effective service, both administratively and operationally.

Yannazzone added, “It is through efforts and partnerships with organizations like St. Thomas Aquinas College that will proactively encourage volunteerism within our ranks. It is hopeful that this joint initiative will serve as a model for others.”

About St. Thomas Aquinas College:
St. Thomas Aquinas College is an independent liberal arts college located on 76 acres in Rockland County, NY, providing education at the undergraduate and graduate levels. The College’s diverse student body of approximately 2,000 full and part-time students can choose from over 100 majors, minors and specializations across four Schools: Arts & Social Sciences, Business, Education, and STEM. The College is recognized by U.S. News & World Report in the Top- Tier for Regional Universities, and by Colleges of Distinction in its New York edition for Business, Education, and Career Development. St. Thomas Aquinas College is accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools; its School of Education is accredited by the Association for Advancing Quality in Educator Preparation (AAQEP) and its School of Business is accredited by the International Accreditation Council for Business Education (IACBE). For more information, visit