Alumni Profile: Fire academy grad shows off baking skills on Netflix show

Tuesday, January 22, 2019
Written by: Laura D. Schumacher

Gavin Schmidt has worked for the Seminole County Fire Department for over 18 years.  He’s reached a point in his life where he was looking to mix it up a bit and decided to apply to be on the hit Netflix baking show “Nailed It!”.  Laura Schumacher, Seminole State’s Alumni and Employee Giving Coordinator, caught up with Gavin to learn more about his experience on the show as well as his time at Seminole State.

When did you attend Seminole State College?
Sometime in either 2000 or 2001 because those were the classes needed to become a firefighter.

What classes or programs were you in at Seminole State College?

I took EMT for one semester and the Fire standards took 6 or 7 months

What factors played into you deciding to attend Seminole State College?   

There’s only a few fire standards courses offered around the state, and Seminole State was the closest college that offered the courses I needed, especially as I was going to UCF at the time.  

What is it like being an overnight celebrity from Netflix
It’s definitely new to me. I’m just taking it all in. Honestly, I’m usually an introvert.

What was the process like to get on to Nailed It? 
I just went on their website and applied. I had to submit a video and do some phone interviews. It took a couple of months, but they called and said I got it. Then I went out and filmed in Burbank, California.

What made you decide to apply for it?  
I’m at a point in my life where I wanted to try new things.  I wanted to see if I could do something like a reality show or game show, and I got it.                           

If you could go back and do anything over again, what would you change? Why?   
I’m currently comfortable and I wanted to switch things up and get out there.  As far as my education and my career, I wouldn’t change anything. I love what I do.

Did your education/time spent at Seminole State College help prepare you? 
Seminole State has a great EMT and fire standards program as well as further education in subjects like paramedic technology. It’s one of the better known programs. We actually have some team members at the Seminole County Fire Department that teach some of the programs.

Who was your greatest influence at Seminole State College? 
My instructors, my fire academy instructors, Corey Coljeski, Stephen Negedly, and Michael Aiken. They taught so well, and they mostly worked at Orlando, but they allowed us to do ride-alongs. It really gave us the experience to make a smooth transition into actually working.  You take all of these classes but the actual experience on a day to day basis is so different, so the hands on experience is really important.

Professionally and/or academically, of what are you most proud?   
Definitely getting on the Special Operations team – it’s like the SWAT team for the Fire Department.  Dive rescue, hazmat, bio terrorism, trench rescue, vehicle, structural, you name it we do it. You have to put in for it and do a bunch of ongoing training to stay up to date on what’s new in the field.  I’ve been on the team for about 14 years now. 

When you’re not working or winning game shows, what might someone find you doing?  
I’m super outdoorsy.  I like to go boating and fishing, or just being out in the woods. I do like to go to the movies. I’m starting to get into traveling and becoming a bit of a foody. I like concerts as well.

Anything else you’d like to add?  
There’s a lot of people that still don’t know what fire departments do, so I think it’s great to spread knowledge about the field.  I played semi-pro football for three years with the Orlando Guardians. Won the national championship that year.  I’m a big goofball – as you can see in the episode.  

Check out Nailed It! Holiday Edition on Netflix to see Gavin take home the prize.

About the Seminole State College Alumni Association

Seminole State College Alumni Association: The Seminole State College Alumni Association provides benefits and services for alumni as they continue their lifelong connection with Seminole State College of Florida, providing opportunities for them to network with one another, interact with the student body and support the College. To learn more, visit the Alumni Association website.

About the Fire Science program

Seminole State has been training Central Florida’s firefighters since 1973. The College has the only certified training center in Seminole County. The fire science programs, through the Center for Public Safety, are fully accredited by the Bureau of Fire Standards and Training (BFST) and supported by local fire departments and the Seminole County Fire Training Directors' Committee. For more information, please visit the Fire Science website.