Fueled by self-determination and grit, JaMar Perry, a 2022 graduate of Summt Academy Transition High School – Columbus, fulfilled a lifetime dream of becoming a firefighter in short order.

Dusty and dirty, JaMar Perry walked into the Columbus Fire Training Academy in late 2022 to inquire about the cadet program. Fresh off his construction shift, the 2022 Summit Academy Transition High School – Columbus graduate was about to begin his journey toward achieving a lifetime goal.

“I always wanted to give back and make a difference. As a firefighter, I can help you in your worst part of life,” says Perry, now a firefighter for both the Jefferson Township and Madison Township Fire Departments.

Perry knows low periods in life. But he compensated for the shortfalls he experienced in his youth with grit and determination.

“There were times in life I had nothing. The only food I had was from school. I took the city bus to school, everywhere. Everything I have I’m grateful for,” he says. “I don’t judge anyone because you don’t know their back story.”

Perry’s back story includes its share of rough patches, he says.

“In middle school I was constantly getting into trouble, being hardheaded,” he reflects.  “I wasn’t the perfect kid in high school either. It’s so much easier to do the wrong thing than the right thing. I’m so glad I started down the right track.”

When he became a father at age 17, Perry says his daughter, Mariah, emerged as his motivator to achieve success and fulfill his personal dreams. Perry worked to support his daughter, at sub shops and in construction during his high school years, all the while with an eye on the future.

“I feel like Summit was a good fit for me. They work with you more if you’re struggling so you can really learn and get stuff down. It’s more hands-on and the teachers care about you,” says Perry, who attended Summit Academy for most of his K-12 education.

Two-and-a-half years out of school and just shy of 20, Perry has more professional accomplishments under his belt than some achieve in a lifetime. He has earned Firefighter 1, Firefighter 2 and EMT certifications by the State of Ohio and nationally. In June, he will have completed the 18-month Columbus Fire Training Academy Cadet Program. In between working 24-hour shifts followed by 48 hours off for both fire departments, Perry also serves as a part-time manager for a sub sandwich shop.

“I take every job seriously. Everyone I have worked for still checks in on me and I check in on them,” says Perry, adding that he does the same with his former Summit Academy teachers and principals.

When Perry catches up with his past teachers and colleagues, he leaves behind a message of inspiration.

“You can do anything you put your mind to. You can’t limit yourself,” says Perry, explaining how that mindset led him to pursue a career as a firefighter. “It’s everything I expected and more. It’s the best job in the world.”

Perry will talk about his journey to becoming a firefighter with students at his alma mater during a Career Day visit next month. Principal Cheryl Elliott anticipates his story will uplift not just her students, but her staff as well.

“JaMar’s can-do, will-do spirit and achievements at such a young age are an inspiration to all of us,” she says.