You can say that Ty Albert is both a fireman and a piano man. The Aims Community College alumnus works as a full-time firefighter with the Denver Fire Department and part-time as a CPAT Coordinator on the Aims Windsor Campus. In addition to two jobs and rewarding family life, Ty has another passion: music. He has taken piano lessons at Aims for the last four years.
Ty Albert Found His Joy Learning and Working at Aims
Ty's dedication to fire service and the ability to pursue the hobby of music has developed harmony in his life and helped him develop into an interesting and multifaceted person.
Working and Thriving at Aims
Ty originally studied finance. Though he tried working in a business office, he quickly discovered that career path wasn’t for him and decided to shift gears. “I always thought being a firefighter would be cool,” he said.
Ty started his public safety career as a volunteer firefighter in Eaton, Colorado. While he was there, he completed the Aims Fire Academy certificate program.
He has fond memories of going through the fire program at Aims. “The instructors were firefighters with departments in this area, and it was a place where I wanted to potentially work. They had all this experience.” In addition to connecting with the teachers, he developed close ties with his classmates. “I made friends in the academy that I'm still friends with to this day. We've gone to each other's weddings and we've all had kids and all that stuff. It gave me really good bonds.”
Several years down the road, Ty began to work part-time at Aims as an instructor and CPAT Proctor. The following year, he moved up to CPAT Coordinator. CPAT is a Candidate Physical Ability Test that shows that someone meets the fitness level to be a firefighter. Ty also oversees the National Testing Network at Aims, the written component to be certified for fire service. He explains, “It's the hoops that potential candidates have to jump through to be able to get a job with fire departments.”
“Working at Aims gives me a ton of joy. I love running this program.”
Ty knows from experience that taking the CPAT is tough and tries to cultivate a supportive environment that fosters excellence. He says the test is “nerve-wracking” and a “really hard workout for 10 minutes.”
He believes consistency within the CPAT program is a benefit because those taking the test are greeted with familiar faces with their best interests at heart. “They know we are there and are trying to help them succeed.” This is true for people who fail the first exam or run out of time. They can do additional conditioning at the workout room for physical-fitness training on the Aims Windsor Campus. “They'll work with us and they'll come back a month or two later and they'll pass it. We get a bunch of success stories that come out of the process and that is great to see,” he said.
Another point of pride for Ty is the training and workout facility at the Aims Public Safety Institute. “I love sharing our gym with people," he said, “it is a beautiful building.” Aims provides Ty and the entire CPAT team with everything they need to make the training facility dynamic and different from the equipment offered at standard gyms, with additions like weighted vests and medicine balls. “We've got everything we need to interact with students and staff that enter the gym to pursue success.”
Ty began working as a career firefighter with Denver Fire in 2018 and took a little time away from Aims to make it through his probationary year. He was able to come back the following year, first as a proctor and then back into the coordinator seat.
Ty sees himself staying at Aims to continue administering a top-notch fire service testing and training facility in addition to being able to dabble in other areas of interest, including music. “I want to expand upon just what this position has allowed me to entertain for my personal interests,” Ty said.
Exploring Musical Interests on Campus
Aims employees have a wide variety of educational opportunities. This includes tuition reimbursement for classes at Aims and other higher education institutions. Ty wanted to take advantage of these benefits, so he enrolled in a private instruction music course at Aims to learn how to play the piano. The class was moved online during the COVID-19 pandemic and is now taught in a hybrid online and in-person environment. Ty’s music teacher is Aims instructor Ivana Muncan and he says that she is a “great teacher.”
“I really wanted to get into something new for me.”
He explained that he played the piano as a child and always regretted giving it up. “As I got older, I always thought that it would be awesome to be able to play piano.”
Initially, Ty began taking his lessons secretly to surprise his wife, Kara. He wanted to surprise her for their fourth wedding anniversary. “I brought her over to campus and then played her a song. She was amazed that I was taking piano lessons, and then I just stuck with it.”
Ty says squeezing in piano time with his career and three young kids at home is tough, but he tries to practice whenever he can. His young daughters love to have books read to them and he sees his progress at reading sheet music as coinciding with his children’s progress with reading. “Ten years will go by really fast, and hopefully, by then, I'll be good at reading music and they'll be reading lots of books.”
Ty would like to see his children attending Aims one day. “I think community colleges are great. Aims has been in my life in a ton of different ways. It's a great resource for the community.”
Balancing Career and Creativity
Ty's story is a testament to the importance of lifelong learning and personal growth. His commitment to his family, career and hobbies demonstrates how embracing new challenges can lead you down unexpected paths — and that these journeys are worth taking.
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