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Johnson C. Smith University Alumni Makes History with Charlotte Fire Department

Venessa Roy ’08 has been a firefighter for the last 10 years. It wasn’t the career she envisioned for herself, but the one she is making big achievements in. The Alumna is the first African American engineer (driver/operator) with the Charlotte Fire Department.

“It’s a bit overwhelming but I am honored and humbled to carry the title as the first,” she said. 

Roy, who has two Bachelor degrees from Smith, credits the university with helping to catapult her career.

“If it wasn’t for Coach Rod recruiting me for the JCSU softball team, I doubt I ever would’ve set foot in Charlotte. That in itself put me in the right place to have the best college experience, surround me with some very influential people, and bring me closer to a career I love,” she emphasized.

Charlotte Fire has created a platform for Roy to give back to the community. She currently serves as the Director of Camp Ignite, girls youth camp. The free summer program, offered by CFD as an introduction to the fire service and other non-traditional public service careers, encourages confidence in young girls, team building and leadership skills.

Roy understand the importance of skillset at a young age, and continues to utilize the skills learned at JCSU, especially in her career.

“Unfortunately, there haven’t been many Black females to make it on the Fire Department,” she said. “At JCSU I learned how to walk in my truth and be confident in myself.”

Her advice for current students preparing to embark on their careers, “Take everything one step at a time and don’t allow anything or anyone intimidate you.”

Outside of serving as a firefighter, Roy spends her time writing. She’s a poet, published author (Shattered Mirrors, 2013), and photographer.

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