Women’s History Month | Making History With Fire

Two Nyack College alumnae. Wanda Walborn and Emily Sigmon. Making history. One lights fires and the other puts fires out.

Since the spring of 2000, Dr. Wanda Walborn and her husband, Dr. Ron Walborn (dean of Alliance Theological Seminary) have radically impacted the lives of male and female students with their legendary Personal Spiritual Formation (PSF) course. Together the Walborns and their guest lecturers have watched students experience breakthrough in areas of their lives where they were stuck or broken. However, Wanda Walborn envisioned another spiritual formation initiative. That dream of a transformational program for women was birthed through a collaboration with the Metro District of The Christian and Missionary Alliance.

In 2012, the one-year Empower certificate program was launched and began with 50 students. By 2014, the program’s remarkable growth expanded to three courses—Empowerone, the prerequisite for the advanced courses—Empowerengage and Empowerproclaim. Not only have flames been fanned in the hearts of more than 300 American women hungry for spiritual transformation, but technology has platforms for Livestream classes to be offered to women in Germany, Gabon, Thailand, Jordan, Canada, China, France, United Arab Emirates and Israel.

As the Empower program spreads like wildfire around the globe, 2017 Nyack alumna Emily Sigmon blazed a new trail this year in her career as a firefighter.

Emily is the first female lieutenant in the Nyack, New York Chelsea Hook & Ladder Company…after being a first responder for less than three years!

It was clear that Emily was destined for breaking glass ceilings, when she hit the milestone of becoming the first female tiller in the history of the Nyack Fire Department back in May 2019. (A tiller sits in the back of a tiller truck and steers the rear wheels.) The goal of always challenging herself to learn something new is evident in the way she has built her skills for firefighting. Initially an exterior fighter, in 2019 she completed training to fight fire inside buildings. Emily explains “That equipped me to become a member of the Nyack FAST (Firefighter Assist and Survival Team). We are a team called upon by other departments around the county to be prepared to rescue firefighters that may go down or become trapped in a building.”

Confident. Courageous. Compassionate. Completely wired for what she does, Emily says, “I am a firm believer in being a student of life, and I tend to lean towards the adventurous side of challenges.” Sometimes simultaneously. Not only does she put out fires, she is the administrative assistant to Nyack’s Vice President of Student Development and Dean of Students while being a student in Nyack’s Master of Social Work degree program and serving as Nyack’s Women’s Lacrosse Head Coach.