August 2020 Student Spotlight
Caroline Caratini, Executive MPA ‘21
We speak to Fire Safety Education Administrator at the New York City Fire Department about her career, completing her degree after more than two decades in the Marxe School’s Bachelor of Science in Public Affairs-FDNY partnership program, and her experience as an Executive MPA student.
How did you get the opportunity to move from budget and project management to becoming the Fire Safety Education Administrator?
I administer all functions of the Fire Safety Education Unit. The uniformed firefighters and officers are the ones that conduct the fire safety education lessons/presentations to the public. Being an FDNY recruiter for over 10 years, allowed me to engage with residents of the most vulnerable communities in NYC. So, when the position of Fire Safety Education Administrator became available, I knew that my lengthy institutional knowledge and communication skills would greatly contribute to the unit’s overall goals.
You were part of the BSPA-FDNY partnership undergraduate program. Can you tell us about the program and your experience in it? Did it open any new doors for you?
The BSPA-FDNY partnership encouraged me to return to Baruch College and complete my degree after 23 years. The program offered us exclusive advisement guidance and tutoring, a tailored version of the traditional BSPA curriculum that is currently being offered, and flexible course offerings which allowed us to handle our tours (work shifts) and course loads. My experience was AMAZING! Taking courses with co-workers allowed us all to study together, while uplifting each other during challenging times. The FDNY cohort provided us all with support and guidance through the process. The professors also knew we were part of the FDNY cohort, so they did provide us with a little more flexibility. As far as opening opportunities, it kinda did. Immediately after graduating last June, I applied to this current position (Administrator of the Fire Safety Education Unit), and as the department has been made well aware that the partnerships exists, the interviewer was more encouraged in selecting me for this position.
You’ve been with the NYC Fire Department for well over 25 years – congratulations! What’s made you happy enough to work there for such an impressive period of time?
Working in the FDNY for 26+ years (since I was 19 years old) has been extremely rewarding. I have been privileged to work in nine different bureaus of the department, and have worked with amazing individuals who have helped me grow and enrich my experience and knowledge. I have remained working here because I truly believe in its mission – to save the lives and properties of NYC residents. Knowing that my services contribute in some way to helping others in their time of need, fulfills many of my personal aspirations. My two sons are both EMT’s and my husband works at our headquarters. Watching them navigate and push through these trying times, makes me truly blessed and proud to be a member of this department.
What brought you back to the Marxe School for the Executive MPA program? How has your experience been thus far and what are you learning?
So, 23 years ago, I paused my education path at Baruch. I was an accounting major then. When the FDNY and Baruch partnered, I was very encouraged by the presentation that Baruch Advisement presented at our Fire Academy. I became so motivated that I decided to continue my education and finally attain my Bachelors degree. The only difference was that I had to change my major from Accountancy to Public Affairs. But, it made much sense to do so, since I worked for a public organization (FDNY). Last June, I finally concluded that journey and received my degree – Bachelor of Science in Public Affairs. The support I received from the advisement office (at that time Melissa Sultana) and all my professors, encouraged me to continue the journey and apply into the Executive program.
Thus far, it has been a very challenging journey. The fast-paced curriculum pushes students to excel at a optimum levels without any breaks in between semesters. However, the professors, advisement office; specifically, Nicole Gordon and Maureen have been extremely supportive and encouraging. During the pandemic, Prof. Gordon worked rapidly to get us a tutor in Budgeting, which was desperately needed since our program was not designed to be an online class. But the tutor was phenomenal and very knowledgeable in the budgeting field. Since the program is already at an accelerated pace, online made it very difficult to keep up with. We just finished taking the Budget and Financial Analysis and Public and Non Profit Organizations courses. The semester we are currently in, consists of only one 7-hr/per week course – Communication Strategy.