By: Tiffany King
March 25, 2024

College of Coastal Georgia alum Cameron Foster ’21 always wanted to help and protect people. This was his main goal in earning his bachelor’s in criminal justice with a concentration in homeland security. The plan was to join law enforcement and become some type of agent. However, when that career path did not pan out, Foster refocused on what was his main goal—helping and protecting people—and he found that through firefighting. Now, he is living out his dream of protecting and saving lives every day.

“I really wanted to be some type of agent, whether it was GBI or FBI. I even tried the Secret Service, but I failed one of their tests. I realized that my goal was to help people and that I can do it differently,” Foster said. “I always thought that I needed to protect people as some type of law enforcement, but I realized I could help people every single day—whether it is doing CPR, patching a cut, or teaching a kid how to stop, drop, and roll. I discovered firefighting and it’s awesome. It’s so hands-on and it’s so different than what I thought I would be doing. It’s so much better than what I thought it would be.”

Through his pursuit of trying to become a law enforcement agent, Foster realized that he did not want to be in a position where he would potentially have to hurt or kill someone. He just wanted to help people, and as a firefighter, he gets to do exactly that.

“When someone’s house catches fire, we don’t charge to put it out. Some EMS services will take you to the hospital and then charge you. We don’t charge anything. We can resuscitate you, and you will never receive a bill. We are solely here to help you,” he said.

Foster is a firefighter with Liberty County Fire Services at Station 12, which covers the Lake George/Fleming area. This summer will mark two years for Foster as a firefighter. Liberty County Fire Services hosts its own recruitment academy. Recruits go through extensive training, learning every aspect of firefighting, including fire suppression for both structural and wildland, search and rescue operations, traffic collisions, emergency medical first response, and more. Becoming a firefighter was a very tough process, but Foster made it through and received two awards when he graduated. Foster was given the Warrior Award for his perseverance and team motivation. He received the Pinnacle Award for having the highest grade-point average.

Being a firefighter is just the right fit for Foster. He not only saves lives, but also land, homes, and items that people hold dear. Foster shared how he resuscitated someone in their driveway not too far from the fire station.

“It’s such a great feeling to see someone come back to life while you’re doing chest compressions,” he said.

Foster also shared how another team of firefighters helped save a family bible that was passed down through generations, and the portrait of a loved one who passed. It was the only thing left of that person after the family’s home caught fire. Firefighting isn’t just a job for Foster—it’s a calling.

Foster hopes that within the next few years, he will be able to move up the ranks within the fire department. He will start to apply for promotion this summer after he reaches his two-year mark. The next position is senior firefighter, then engineer, then lieutenant, where he would lead his own crew. Now, alongside firefighting, he helps with the recruitment academy in training the next group of dedicated firefighters for the county.

Not only is Foster a firefighter, he is also a Georgia SPARTAN. The Georgia SPARTAN Firefighter Course is hosted by the Douglas Fire Department. It is a one day, 24-hour class for new firefighters to expand their basic skills while they push themselves mentally and physically. The class stresses physical and mental preparedness, firefighter survival, interior search and rescue, and includes live fire during the class. Each graduating SPARTAN receives a SPARTAN number and is eligible to come back and help teach within the program. Foster completed the course in February. He is now Georgia SPARTAN No. 119. Foster plans to help instruct the next Georgia SPARTAN class in November and wants to become a Georgia SPARTAN instructor himself. Currently, there are only two people in the entire fire department who have the distinction of being a Georgia SPARTAN. Out of the two, Foster is the only active firefighter who is a Georgia SPARTAN.

“It is a huge honor to be a part of it. It’s a great little family and I’m really proud of that,” he said.

Just Keep Moving

Foster’s advice for his fellow alumni navigating their careers is to just keep moving.

“I applied to a lot of places and was told ‘No’ a lot. Just keep on going. Your time will come. Don’t get too discouraged and don’t settle,” Foster said. “Don’t settle for a job you don’t like. We will be on this planet for roughly 70 years. Make sure you are spending those years doing exactly what you want to do.”

Foster understands that many people work jobs they don’t enjoy out of necessity and responsibility. However, for those who don’t have those obligations, he encourages them to not settle.

“Life is too short to work a job you hate. If you don’t love it, don’t do it. There is something out there that you do love, and you will find it. You just have to keep going,” Foster said.

What He Took Away from Coastal

During his time at the College, Foster was a student worker, then lead supervisor of Recreation and Wellness, also known as Mariner Rec.

“I feel like my role with Mariner Rec taught me a good work ethic—a strong work ethic. Working at the College was the first time that I didn’t feel like I was there just for a paycheck. I was there because I liked it. I wanted to be there and enjoyed working with everybody and being hands-on. That is the first job that I had ever felt that way,” Foster said. “You know the cliché, ‘If you’re doing something you love, you’ll never have to work a day in your life.’ It showed me that I didn’t have to settle for something that I didn’t love.”

Foster worked in the recreation department at Valdosta State University for a brief period of time, and unfortunately didn’t enjoy it.

“I didn’t stay there because I knew I didn’t have to. I knew that I could find a job that I loved. I just had to go look for it, and I found it,” he said. “I think if it wasn’t for my time at Coastal, I would’ve just settled to make good money, but I wanted to love what I did.”

Going to college proved to Foster that he was smart enough to earn a degree. He was the first traditional college student on either side of his family. Being at Coastal showed him that he could leave home at the age of 18, live in the dorms, and make adult decisions.

“Coastal showed me that I can do hard things and be successful,” he said.

He applied this mindset towards finding a career he loves, pushing through the recruitment academy, and becoming a Georgia SPARTAN.

Becoming a firefighter does not require a degree, and Foster does not regret earning his. He learned not only about criminal justice, but about the world and himself.

“I’ve been to more countries than the people in my department. I did that because through college, I saw that there is more out there,” he said.

Being at Coastal also connected him with his girlfriend. They met in Paris through the study abroad program. She attended another institution at the time.

“If it wasn’t for Coastal, I wouldn’t have met the love of my life,” Foster said. “We had our first date at the Eiffel Tower, and we’ve been together for six years.”

He and his girlfriend now own a home together in Brunswick that they worked hard to save up for. Next month, they will be traveling to Utah and then to Ireland in September. Last year, they went to Switzerland and previously travelled to New York. Foster is hoping to go to Japan with friends in December, and he and his girlfriend hope to visit New Zealand next year.

Foster is living his dream of saving and protecting lives. He is now motivating and training others to do the same.