William Tremaine

ASU-Beebe Academic All-Star balances work, school, home responsibilities

William Tremaine leans next to a model of the human body in one of the labs at Arkansas State University-Beebe as he works on his health science major after winning the Academic All-Star Award.

William Tremaine has a lot on his plate. He is an advanced emergency medical technician, volunteer firefighter, full-time student, tutor, husband and father. While he has little to no free time, he said he is thankful for the opportunities he has to be a good example for his two children and to work toward a career goal that will allow him to help his community in a tangible way.

With hard work and determination, Tremaine has kept a 4.0 grade-point average and was recently named the Academic All-Star for Arkansas State University-Beebe at the Arkansas Community Colleges fall conference. Tremaine was nominated by faculty, asked to apply, then was voted on by the ASU-Beebe University Awards Committee. The winner of the Academic All-Star Award receives a $500 scholarship for the spring semester and is eligible for special transfer scholarships to many four-year institutions.

Tremaine is not one to let an opportunity pass him by. Since he was a teenager, he has been able to recognize blessings and launch off of those opportunities to better his life and the lives of those around him.

When he was 17, Tremaine was taken from his mother and stepfather’s home and put into foster care. He said he was removed from “a really deplorable home life” and was finally allowed to be a kid when he moved in with his foster parents.

“For a lot of people, that maybe would have had a negative impact on their life,” he said. “In all honesty, for me, my foster parents were probably one of the biggest blessings in my adolescent life.”

Tremaine lived with his foster parents until he was 19 years old, and he said he still calls and visits them as much as possible. He said they have had an incredible positive impact on his life, and when he talks about his parents, it is usually in reference to his foster family.

Now, Tremaine works his hardest to take care of his own family and give back to his community.

Willy and Sara — Tremaine’s 9-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter — are learning about hard work simply by watching their father study.

“My son has recently had some trouble reading,” he said. “My biggest thing is that you really have to work hard to overcome these obstacles. That’s a lesson I’ve learned through his life. If you’ve worked really hard to overcome an obstacle, whether you’ve accomplished that or not, at the end of the day you can lay your head down and know you have done everything you can do to accomplish this goal. That’s a quality I want to instill in my kids.”

Sometimes Tremaine’s school work becomes a family activity. He said while he is taking a class in world literature, he reads some of his homework selections — including The Odyssey and The Canterbury Tales — with his children and wife.

“I think it’s an important part of who we are today,” he said.

While Tremaine is in class and working on the weekends, he said his wife, Jolene, has held their family up and helped him achieve his goals. Jolene works part time at North Metro Medical Center in the transitions unit, and she keeps things in line at home so Tremaine can focus on his studies.

“God knows I couldn’t do it without her,” he said.

After he graduates from ASU-Beebe in May, Tremaine plans to apply for the nursing program at the University of Central Arkansas in Conway. His goal is to become a nurse practitioner and open a reduced-cost clinic to benefit low-income and elderly residents in his community.

“Around here, we have a high percentage of older citizens,” he said. “More often than not, you see them not seeking medical care because they can’t afford it. It’s go to the doctor and buy medicine or go and buy groceries. I don’t want that to be a factor for low-income families. I don’t want that to be a factor for the older population. I just don’t think it should be a factor for anyone.”

Tremaine knows a lot about the medical care of the people in his community because of his current job and volunteer work. He has been a volunteer firefighter for three years in Ward — where he and his family live outside of Cabot in northern Lonoke County — and is an advanced EMT for Allied Ambulance Service.

His public service did not start with his role as an EMT. Earlier in his life, Tremaine served in the Army National Guard, then transferred to the Air National Guard before he was medically discharged in February 2011. He also worked in law enforcement from May 2005 until November 2011, and he said he was always impressed with the EMTs who responded to calls.

“I thought it was interesting, all the things they could do in the back of an ambulance,” he said. “I decided to try and do it. It took a long time to get there. I had to go to classes around work, so that was kind of crazy.”

Tremaine got his basic EMT license in 2011, but he quickly decided he wanted to be able to do more than his license allowed.

“As an EMT basic, you’re kind of limited in your scope of practice,” he said. “I wanted to expand my scope of practice, so I went to the advanced EMT classes and got that license in 2013.”

Tremaine works as an advanced EMT on the weekends now that he is a full-time student, and he said the job gives him a chance to interact with the community and carry out a service for those who live around him.

“You really feel like you get a chance to give back to the community,” he said. “At the end of the day, I always feel good that I did something to give back and to help the community all at the same time.”

As an advanced EMT, Tremaine said he loves his job, but he works a lot and does not make much money. This reality propelled him to go to school. He is in his second year at ASU-Beebe, and his long-term plans to open a clinic will allow him to continue to help his community while being better suited to provide for his family.

“While you feel good about [being an EMT], at the end of the day you still have to provide a roof over the heads of your children,” he said. “I still want to help people. I still want to feel, at the end of the day, that I did something to benefit humanity.”

At ASU-Beebe, Tremaine is not just a 4.0 student. He is part of the school’s honors program and is a member of Gamma Beta Phi, a student organization that encourages the advancement of scholastic efforts among students. Membership in these organizations requires volunteer hours, but he said he is fortunate to fulfill the majority of those requirements through his other activities.

Tremaine is also a biology tutor for other students. In his application for the Academic All-Star Award, he recounted his experience tutoring one young man who was in his biology class. He said they studied every chance they got, and Tremaine called the other student as soon as final grades were posted to see if their hard work had paid off.

After a tense moment waiting to hear if the other student had passed, Tremaine heard the good news. The young man had made a C in the class.

“After telling me, the phone went silent for a moment,” Tremaine wrote in his Academic All-Star application. “Holding back a tear of relief, joy and excitement, I began cheering for him. He made it, we as a team made it, and no educational experience to date has been more meaningful.”

When Tremaine finishes school and — if things go as planned — starts work as a nurse practitioner, he said he wants to open a clinic somewhere in central Arkansas. There are distance restrictions for free and reduced-cost clinics that might prevent him from opening the clinic in Ward, but he said he would like to keep it close to home.

Staff writer Angela Spencer can be reached at (501) 244-4307 or aspencer@arkansasonline.com.