When a fire alarm sounds in the Morgantown area, West Virginia University student Steven Cover, of Gaithersburg, Md., is among the firefighters who spring into action.

Between classes at the Perley Isaac Reed School of Journalism, Cover has helped extinguish fires for the Star City Volunteer Fire Department.

In a few days, he will graduate from WVU with a bachelors degree in journalism (advertising concentration).

If you have the time as a student, I think its important to be involved with your community,Cover said.You get out of it what you put into it, and I will always have a home here at the fire department.

A few years ago, Cover took a high school class that offered firefighter and emergency medical technician training to seniors.

I loved the interaction between the firefighters, all the tools and equipment you have to learn and use, helping people and the daily irregularity of the schedule,he said.You never know where you could be 10 minutes from now, and that is incredibly appealing to me.

Juggling firefighting and school work was sometimes a challenge for Cover, who put in many late nights but managed to keep a 3.6 GPA .

You might think youll spend the afternoon working on homework, but that could be broken up by a call that takes a couple hours,he said.

Covers former journalism professor, Jan Boyles, remembers him as being an attentive student.

In class, Steven was always the first to offer insight, feedback and guidance to his peers,said Boyles, director of advising at the journalism school.He had such an industrious work ethic and labored to submit his best possible work.

Last summer, Cover worked full-time as a wildland firefighter for the U.S. Forest Service on the north rim of the Grand Canyon.

We lived in a remote forest encampment in the mountains of the high desert there,Cover said.We had no TV, no Internet, no cell service, although we did have electricity and running water. Work days on a fire could be up to 16 straight hours, only to sleep on the ground at night and get up the next day to do it over again.

After graduation, Covers immediate plans are to work full-time for a fire department in the Washington, D.C., area. He said his WVU degree will help him be more competitive in the firefighting industry.

My degree taught me how to market myself and my skills and also how to work in teams,he said.Those are skills I can apply anywhere I go.

Commencement Weekend is May 15-17 at WVU . The School of Journalism ceremony is at 10 a.m. Sunday, May 17, at the WVU Creative Arts Center. Award-winning NBC journalist Hoda Kotb will address graduates, and a live webcast will be available at http://webcast.wvu.edu/ .

WVU Commencement on the Net: http://commencement.wvu.edu/