Shane Peitscher: Firefighter Climbs a Different Ladder


Shane Peitscher got plenty of heat the last few years from his fellow Bettendorf Firefighters.

"What are you, trying to become chief?" Peitscher said, recounting the good-natured ribbing received while pursuing an H.L. McLaughlin Master of Business Administration at St. Ambrose.

No. His chief desire was to learn.

Now-retired Bettendorf Fire Captain Steve Kingsley lit the fuse by encouraging Peitscher to consider climbing a different ladder – and look ahead to expanded second career options following the typical fireman's retirement at age 55.

However, the 42-year-old father of two found much more along the way to his May graduation.

"My shift is responsible for developing training for the department as well as area departments," explained Peitscher, a lieutenant for Bettendorf Fire, and part of the local Mutual Aid Box Alarm System (MABAS) technical rescue team.

Peitscher worked on a dive boat for four years in Hawaii in the 2000s. Now he is an instructor for a suburban Chicago company specializing in swift water rescues.

"The training in development course, along with human behavior in organizations, really helped me reflect on adult learners and how to set them up for success," Peitscher said. "Many of the Master of Organizational Leadership (MOL) program classes also helped me relate to creating an environment where leadership can occur, regardless of title."

In the MBA program, students can take a certain number of elective courses from the MOL program to satisfy credit requirements and vice versa.

"The courses have made me a better listener. They showed me the value of asking the right questions," Peitscher said. "The strategy course helped me think about our department from a wider angle and contemplate what the future of our department could look like."

Shane Peitscher, MBA

Class of 2022

Peitscher said his master's studies at St. Ambrose taught him new ways to learn. "The courses have made me a better listener. They showed me the value of asking the right questions."

Peitscher's profession demands a 24-hour workday followed by 48 hours off duty. The job involves the daily unpredictability of potentially harrowing circumstances, stressful situations, and unique challenges.

"Irregularity is excitement," said Peitscher, whose father was a Pleasant Valley volunteer firefighter. "But it also makes it hard to plan and schedule what you're doing - so that's the challenge of school with a job like mine where you don't know if you're going to be up the entire night, or if you are going to have a late day."

To juggle dueling demands, Peitscher most appreciated the ability to finish his coursework one class at a time – and also do so online.

"Without that? I couldn't have done it," said Peitscher, who made sure to study on off days when his children were in school themselves.

The flexibility to shape the program to an individual student also was key, with Peitscher preferring an MBA with an MOL concentration to serve both his present focus and possible future.

A 1998 Pleasant Valley High School grad who earned a marketing degree from the University of Northern Iowa in 2003, Peitscher said his master's studies at St. Ambrose taught him new ways to learn.

"This style of learning and these classes, it's whatever you want to get out of it," he said. "Most classes, I could pull something that applied to my job. It also was beneficial to interact with a diverse student group and faculty to get exposed to a lot of different ideas and viewpoints."

Peitscher credits the support of his family, city and fellow firefighters for getting him through the "fire."

Now, same as Kingsley before him, Peitscher plans to recommend the MBA program and continuing education to others.

"We have a very tight group and always want the best for each other. It's a family with some of my closest friends here," he said.

–Steve Tappa '91


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