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Paramedic Finds Joy Helping His Community

posted on Wednesday, November 2, 2022 in  Alumni Profiles

Onazi “Oz” Agbese was working as a strength and conditioning coach when his sister encouraged him to join the Waterloo Fire Department. A graduate of Hawkeye Community College, she told him it would be a good fit for him. She was right.

“It’s such a big deal for me to be able to go out there and help my own community, help my own people,” Agbese said. “That’s honestly my favorite part of the job.”

Agbese joined the department in 2018, and soon after enrolled in the Emergency Medical Services program at Hawkeye. Working and going to school full-time seemed daunting at first, but he found the program was flexible and the instructors supportive enough for him to make it work.

In the end, Agbese believes doing both at the same time made him better at his job.

“It takes a level of focus that really translates well into this job,” he said. “When you’re on a scene, when you’re on a call, there’s tons of outside noise and you need that ability to focus in and do the task at hand.”

During his time at Hawkeye, Agbese was impressed by the depth of knowledge his instructors brought to class, a combination of textbook learning and real-world experience.

“They had personal anecdotes and stories that were able to make the information more relevant,” he said. “A medical textbook is very dry, and it’s hard to understand until someone tells you, ‘This is what it looks like in real life, this is how I’ve experienced dealing with that issue’.”

Agbese graduated from Hawkeye in 2021, and remains employed with the Waterloo Fire Department, now proudly serving his hometown as a paramedic.

“Every time you go out on a call, you get to help make someone’s day a little bit better,” he said. “They don’t call 911 because they’re having the best day of their life. They’re calling because they’re having an issue. You can help your own people solve an issue that life threw at them.”


  1. Alumni
  2. Emergency Medical Services
  3. Paramedic
  4. Waterloo Fire Department
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