Posted May 30, 2023

Temple graduate today, paramedic tomorrow: Health professions senior joins the National Guard

McKenna Burkhardt, CPH ’23, credits Temple and her major for preparing her well for the next phase of her life in the National Guard. 

McKenna Burkhardt holding a sign that says "My Big Future: Paramedic and Lieutenant"
Photography By: 
Joseph V. Labolito

Name: McKenna J. Burkhardt
Degree: BS, Health professions 
College: College of Public Health 
Hometown: Bethlehem, Pennsylvania 
Graduation Year: 2023 

Big Future: A second lieutenant in the Army National Guard and paramedic school. After graduation, McKenna will stay in Philadelphia with her unit and be commissioned into the Army National Guard as a second lieutenant. Next spring, McKenna will begin the Armor Basic Officer Leader Course, a 19-week leadership training program with the Army. One day, McKenna hopes to become a flight paramedic and work in critical life-or-death situations. 

Why Temple: McKenna chose Temple for two reasons: its athletics program and its Army ROTC program. She played field hockey in high school and knew she wanted the sport to be part of her college experience. Temple would give her the opportunity to play field hockey at the collegiate level for another four years. McKenna had also always imagined herself joining the army one day and felt that Temple’s ROTC program would give her the perfect pathway to achieving that dream. 

Standout job training: McKenna initially chose to study health professions because she wanted to become a physician's assistant. To fulfill the clinical hours she needed for her major, she became an emergency medical technician in her hometown of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania during breaks from school. She quickly fell in love with the job and the nature of working in the field. In her senior year, McKenna changed her mind about being a physician's assistant and decided to become a paramedic instead. She is excited to enroll in paramedic school after she graduates from Temple and believes that everything she has learned as an Owl will give her a leg up.

Philly life: Being at Temple was a treat for McKenna, who was already an avid Philly sports fan. She appreciated being so close to all the sporting events and watching her beloved city erupt in celebration when one of its teams clinched a playoff spot. Even though she couldn’t attend every game, she regularly hopped on the subway and headed to Xfinity Live! Philadelphia to get a stadium-like experience.

Temple Made moment: McKenna wasn’t sure if ROTC would fit into her busy field hockey schedule, but by the second semester of her freshman year, she was able to join. Her days began early with physical training at 6 a.m., followed by three to four hours of field hockey practice and then a full roster of classes in the afternoon. Being a student athlete and in ROTC instilled a lot of discipline into McKenna and helped her focus on reaching her goals. McKenna used the skills gained in ROTC to lead her team on the field as part of the field hockey leadership team. ROTC has shaped who McKenna has become after four years at Temple and will continue to positively guide her army and paramedic career into the future. 

Hootable: “Living in North Philadelphia and being at Temple has been really eye-opening and has given me an edge for living life as an adult. Temple is interlocked with the community and is unlike other colleges in this way. It’s amazing being able to live among such a diverse array of people and get to form relationships with them. Next year, I’m not worried about living on my own because of the experiences I have had here.” 

- Lauri Kochis