Fabian Moreno, an Explorer Scout with the Ukiah Fire Department, listens as Firefighter Dustin McNab explains safety devices on a self-contained breathing apparatus. Press Democrat photo by Jeff Kan Lee

By GLENDA ANDERSON
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Fabian Moreno’s gaze holds the appearance of strength, kindness and understanding, traits that fit his aspiration to become a firefighter and paramedic.
It’s likely also inspired other youths to trust the 17-year-old Ukiah High School student’s mentoring abilities.
“He is a real leader,” said Ukiah Public Safety Chief Chris Dewey.
Moreno has convinced other teens to become involved in sports and to join MESA, the Math, Engineering, Science Achievement school program in which he’s participated for six years.
He takes the time to help and teach other kids outside of sports and school programs and often takes the lead within the programs, Dewey said.
“He likes helping other people,” said Ukiah High Principal Dennis Willeford.
Moreno also pushes them to excel, Dewey said.
“He was always the one to say ‘Let’s go run’ after (football) practice,” said Dewey, who is a coach at the high school in addition to overseeing the city’s police and fire departments. Moreno was a football team captain last season.
Between schoolwork and his extracurricular activities, Moreno stays busy.
He’s a Ukiah Fire Department Explorer Scout, plays sports, sits on Ukiah High’s youth advisory council, is treasurer of MESA and helps out at his family’s Mexican restaurant one night a week.
Moreno, a Ukiah native, said his parents taught him to be responsible and hard-working.
He also credits teachers, coaches and people such as Dewey for encouraging him to become involved in different activities.
“I’m pretty much glad I listened to them,” Moreno said.
When Moreno was a little boy, he used to say he was going to grow up to be a firefighter. He said he was half joking, but he really enjoys going on calls with firefighters and paramedics and learning about the skills it takes to do those jobs.
In addition to the Explorer program, he’s attending an academy that prepares volunteers to be firefighters.
“I’m highly interested in becoming a firefighter and paramedic. I like being needed and helping people,” Moreno said.
But he also enjoys the engineering classes he’s taken through MESA and has not ruled out that area as a career. He also could see himself becoming a counselor.
Moreno has good grades, averaging a 3.5 GPA, and had the opportunity to go to four-year colleges after he graduates in June, but he’d decided to stay closer to home and save money.
“I want to be financially secure,” Moreno said.
He plans to attend Mendocino Community College for two years and become a paramedic before heading to a distant college.
Moreno said he’s in no hurry to leave his home, family and friends.
“I like Ukiah,” he said.

You can reach Staff Writer Glenda Anderson at 462-6473 or glenda.anderson@pressdemocrat.com.