Fired up to serve others

James Avila-Ellington ’13 describes his time at Jesuit High School as being very helpful in shaping him into a man for others and preparing him to be a firefighter.

After graduating from Jesuit, Mr. Avila-Ellington went on to double major in both business and in communications at California State University, Sacramento while also working for the U.S. Forest Service as a firefighter.

During his time at Jesuit and in college, Mr. Avila-Ellington played team sports, and he credits these sports for preparing him to be a firefighter.

“I enjoy the physical and mental challenge of working with a team,” Mr. Avila-Ellington said. “Playing team sports at Jesuit and playing team sports a little bit in college [were things] that blended together [with firefighting].”

Mr. Avila-Ellington is a firefighter, specifically a wildlands firefighter. Being a wildlands firefighter is different from the standard firefighter due to the fact that wildlands firefighters fight forest fires rather than structure fires. Mr. Avila-Ellington has found his time as a wildlands firefighter very rewarding for a variety of reasons.

“I work for the Forest Service, and I get to protect people and the land,” Mr. Avila-Ellington said. “I love the outdoors — I hike a lot, I fish a lot, and being outside is something that I enjoy. I also enjoy the physical and mental aspect of being challenged out in nature and trying to help people. But also, people’s faces and being able to say that I made a difference [are things] that you can’t put a price on.”

Mr. Avila-Ellington encourages current Jesuit students who are considering a career as a firefighter or other first responder to pursue their passion and gather information so that they can learn more about all of their options.

“I would say that kids should talk to people who are first responders,” Mr. Avila-Ellington said. “Talk to professionals and get to know the career field from the perspective of someone who has already put some time in and invested effort into trying to master a craft. See what lifestyle they live, and have goals for what you want your life to look like.”

Mr. Avila-Ellington’s passion to serve and help his community makes him an embodiment of a man for others and he is a valued member of the Jesuit community.