Celebrating our Graduates: Sam Vanden Langenberg

Celebrating our Graduates: Sam Vanden Langenberg

| By: Haase, Elijah D

Career Program: Fire Protection Technician 
Originally From: Appleton
Current Residence: Appleton
Age: 36
Years of Attendance at FVTC: Fall 2022 - Fall 2023



Why did you choose to study this field?

I had worked several dead-end jobs in the past and felt that my abilities were going to waste. I am a firm believer in every person pulling their weight and using their talents to make the world a better place; the last time I felt like I was doing this was while I was in the Marine Corps. I decided to become a firefighter because I will be able to be a protector once again.

Tell us how you came to choose FVTC for your education.

A few years ago, my employer put me through the summer EMT course at FVTC. I did my clinicals with the Oshkosh Fire Department, and 30 minutes into the shift I texted my wife "I 1000% want to quit my job right now and do this for a living!" A few conversations with firefighters and students at the time convinced me to join the program soon after.

What's been the most rewarding part of your educational journey at FVTC?

The students! You won't make it through this program if you don't have toughness, grit, determination, and work ethic, and those who don't have those traits are weeded out quickly. The majority of my time is spent with motivated, active, tough kids in their late teens and early twenties who love training and throwing ladders, aren't afraid to roll up their sleeves, and most importantly, put others before themselves!

What was the most difficult part?

Seeing those who don't make it through the program. Everyone that starts has the capacity to make it, and I want to help them all to reach their goals, but I can't help those who don't want to rise to the challenge. It breaks my heart to see people fail when I know they could do well if they put their heart into it.

What will you do on graduation day or in the future to celebrate graduation?

I will hold my wife Laura and my newborn son Joseph close in this victory. As my son grows older, I'll show him the picture I intend to take of the three of us on my graduation, not so that he can hold me on a pedestal, but so that he can see what I accomplished at 36 and know that he can go even farther.

Tell us about your plans after graduation.

I intend to work for the Neenah-Menasha Fire Department and become the best firefighter I can. I pledge to use my talents to protect and care for the community as long as I am able.

One last parting thought or words of wisdom to share with others.

In a world of self-service, learn self-sacrifice! In a world of rights, learn responsibility! If you're dissatisfied with where you are, rise up, take control, and make the world a better place. If you don't have the skills, learn them. Take responsibility for the world we all live in and remember that no age is too old (or too young) to start. Don't make an excuse, make a difference!