On Sunday night, Oct. 1, 2017, as concertgoers sang along with the acts of the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival in Las Vegas, 64-year-old Stephen Paddock cocked his semi-automatic rifle, aimed through a hole he’d smashed in the window of his Mandalay Bay suite, and fired into the crowd below.
Flight paramedic Kurtis Guy, long a fixture of the Las Vegas emergency medical services, jumped to action, an instinct that has served him well when responding to severe accidents and natural disasters.
“I think that anyone who goes and volunteers for these incidents finds a certain amount of accomplishment by helping others out,” he says.
The job, Guy adds, is highly rewarding; not only has he worked with bright and compassionate nurses and paramedics, but the resilience of a city – Las Vegas after the deadliest mass shooting to date and parts of Georgia following Hurricane Matthew – is inspiring.
And Guy himself has turned out to be an inspiration to those around him.
A self-described non-traditional student, Guy enrolled in the George Washington University (GW) School of Medicine and Health Sciences (SMHS) Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences Clinical Management and Leadership degree program, a distance-education option that allowed him to juggle his flight paramedic schedule with full-time classes.
“The ability to take courses from across the country and receive the same level of education and intellectual challenge as if I were sitting in class was something I did not think possible,” he says. “GW’s distance education program has been some of, if not the best, learning I have had to date.”
Guy, who will walk in the graduation ceremony on the National Mall this month, was also nominated as the Health Sciences Distinguished Scholar, an honor awarded by faculty to an outstanding student. “I have a high personal academic standard, and the fact that GW recognizes academic excellence is a testament to the pride they take in their professors and students,” Guy says. “The ceremony recognizes those with a ridiculously high GPA, and that I was included in this group was a true honor.”
Bolstered by his academic achievements, Guy – who has dreamed of being a doctor since childhood – is continuing at SMHS in the Post-Baccalaureate (Post-Bacc) Pre-Medicine Program, designed to prepare students for medical school application.
“The Post-Bacc program is one of the reasons I applied to GW,” Guy says.
For now, he and his wife, he says, are living a surreal life: “[We] just moved from sunny and hot – but dry – Las Vegas, Nevada, to Ashburn, Virginia, a few weeks ago in preparation for me starting the Post-Bacc program,” he says. “The next 12 months will be a grueling deep dive in the sciences, and I am incredibly excited to jump in.”