Chris Black

Aug 23, 2023
  • Alumni & Friends

Chris Black - Texarkana, Texas Fire Chief

When Texarkana, Texas Fire Chief Chris Black decided to finish his degree, he was understandably a bit anxious. After all, it had been more than 20 years since he had seen the inside of a classroom. Chief Black, a Texarkana native, was a member of Pleasant Grove High School’s first graduating class in 1986, after which he attended Texarkana College.

In 2010 (at the age of 42) Black decided it was time to finish his education. “Education has always been important to me,” he said. “I wanted to finish my degree for myself, but also for my children. I wanted them to know that their father had gone to college and completed his degree.”

Already employed by the Texarkana, Texas Fire Department, Black enrolled in the Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences program at Texas A&M University-Texarkana. The Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences (BAAS) is a nationally recognized program designed for skilled adults seeking a bachelor's degree. The 120-hour degree provides an expedited path to degree completion by recognizing and credentialing personal learning acquired outside the classroom. The process through which personal learning articulates to college credit is called Prior Learning Assessment (PLA), and the learning assessed is the type people acquire in their work, military service, technical degree programs, and/or other professional development programs and opportunities.

“The BAAS program was a great fit for me,” said Black. “I was able to take all of the experience I had throughout my career and apply it towards my degree. It made a big difference.” Black also felt like the flexible instruction methods were beneficial to him. “Being able to take classes online as well as in person was important to me,” he said. “My children were in high school when I went back to college. Being able to take classes online meant that I didn’t have to miss important family events while I was finishing my degree.”

Black credits his rise through the ranks of the Texarkana, Texas Fire Department in part to his degree from A&M-Texarkana. “Having this degree definitely helped me as I was promoted up through the department. Having a degree put me ahead of others who were applying for promotions, and one of the requirements for the position of Fire Chief is having a college degree.” Black said that he frequently encourages members of the fire department and others to finish their education. “It’s never too late to learn,” he says.

Chief black has been employed by the Texarkana, Texas Fire Department for over 26 years. He has been married to his wife Jennifer for 28 years. They have two adult children, Sydney Harp and Drake Black. When not working Chris enjoys spending time with his one-year-old grandson, Joseph Harp.