Loving to Learn, Learning to Lead

Emergency Manager Kurt Bramer on his love of learning and the unique value of a Bethel education.

I did the very traditional route right out of high school. Four years at Mankato State. I started with physical therapy and eventually became a paramedic.

I have a pretty demanding career. I’m an Emergency Manager now. I’m still certified as a paramedic, however my responsibilities are less clinical and more managerial. I get the chance to practice leadership often. That’s the nature of public safety. Between large-scale incidents, and exercises and drills it’s critical to keep everybody’s skills sharp and it takes up a lot of time.

Over the course of my lifetime and career I’ve gone back to college a number of times. I had a lot of unsatisfying experiences. Programs that continue to only know the model of traditional first time college students. There’s less understanding of the dynamics of a working adult with a family.

I love Bethel’s cohort model. You develop a unique relationship with the people in your cohort, and you can address problems and issues with individuals who have very different backgrounds and experiences. Getting all these different perspectives is really eye-opening. It’s made me a stronger person, trying to see problems and tackle solutions the way someone else would.

At my age, it’s exciting to see something that looks new and fresh. I’ve seen and done so much over my lifetime that a lot of situations feel like ‘been there, done that.’ There’s an excitement to seeing new ideas and being able to say ‘wow, I never thought of that.’ That’s why I’m addicted to education.

In emergency medicine you don’t build long-term relationships. You get in and take care of situations. You help people, but you don’t form an emotional bond. That was a protective measure for me. But as I matured and went through life I realized it was becoming a barrier. It impeded my ability to build relationships outside of work.

One of the most important things for me has been embracing the idea of transformation. It sounds like a slogan, but there’s such a depth of truth to what happens. I was at a point in my life where I was ready to embrace that transformation. To break down those walls and allow myself to build deeper relationships. So one thing I’ve personally taken from Bethel is developing the ability to empathize more deeply with other people. It allows me to better help them from where they are, not from where I want them to be.

Bethel places a lot of value on individuals. I appreciate that. You’re treated as a person, not a product. I have a family, two children and a wife. I have a full time career. I have a side job as a photographer. Things come up that are unpredictable, especially in the field of emergency medicine. The graciousness of Bethel and all the faculty is something I hadn’t seen in previous college experiences. 

My advice for fellow graduate students is to embrace the interaction with adults who have other perspectives. It increases your ability to think critically, and to understand how many facets there are to problems and life situations. We tend to have our blinders on. We view things from our own perspective and our own experience. It can be easy to fall into that trap and fail to recognize how deep, how diverse a problem can be. Bethel is one of those unique places where it is safe to have very candid, very deep conversations. It helps you grow as a person.

More info about Kurt
Major
M.A. in Organizational Leadership
School
College of Adult & Professional Studies, Graduate School
Hometown
Fairmont, MN
Interests
Photography, flying, personal fitness, carpentry