International Rescue & Relief

Photo of IRR students repelling down cliffs in Colorado.

experience adventure, experience service

Some people not only welcome adventure, they seek it out no matter where in the world it might be found. And some people feel the same way about service—it’s not enough to just talk about it when there’s work to be done. And some, maybe even you, crave both adventure and service. If so, Union College’s international rescue and relief (IRR) degree may be the perfect fit for you.

Not everyone’s calling is the same. That’s why Union College offers options.

You’ll earn a B.S. International Rescue and Relief with emphases in:

  • Pre-professional (pre-physician assistant, pre- medical, pre-dental or pre-physical therapy)
  • Public safety (firefighter, law enforcement, park ranger or paramedic)

or choose:

  • Health Care Leadership (an IRR/nursing dual major)
  • A.S. Emergency Medical Services

or an IRR minor in Disaster Management Survival and Rescue

Your IRR adviser can help create a degree plan to best suit your career goals.


    What our alumni are saying ...
    Jonathan Hoewing
    Photo of Jonathan Hoewing

    2009 graduate—now on the medical staff of a prince of Saudi Arabia

    “As I neared graduation, I wondered what God had in store for me. I planned to work as a paramedic until He opened a door to service. I didn’t have to wait long. After an earthquake rocked Haiti in early 2010, I joined IRR students and alumni in Haiti to provide relief and aid to earthquake victims. I organized daily medical and mobile clinics, conducted group debriefings, attended United Nations meetings and rubbed elbows with military groups from around the world. Once home I looked for work opportunities that would incorporate most, if not all, of my education and field experience. I was offered a contract in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, working for the government as a paramedic with the Saudi Red Crescent Authority. After working in the field responding to various types of emergency cases, I began to settle into a routine, but once again God had other plans for me. The Red Crescent Authority is also responsible for the personal health care needs of a prince of Saudi Arabia and they were seeking qualified individuals. I was one of the lucky few chosen to live on the grounds of the palace as personal medical staff for the royal family. I wasn’t chosen because of my years as a paramedic or my knowledge of emergency medicine. No, I was told that I was chosen because I was one of a few people in the entire country that had a specialty degree, a degree in international rescue and relief from Union College. So what good is a degree in international rescue and relief? How many people can say they work for the prince of Saudi Arabia!”

    Josh Enevoldsen
    Photo of Josh Enveoldsen

    IRR graduate—now a physician assistant practicing internal medicine and pediatrics in Fort Defiance, Ariz.

    “After looking at more traditional approaches to physician assistant school, I decided to look for something a bit more unique and exciting. When a friend told me about Union College’s international rescue and relief degree, I briefly looked at the pre-professional emphasis curriculum and immediately knew this was how I wanted to prepare for PA school. I still had to sit through organic chemistry, mammalian physiology and other prerequisites for PA school, but the unique classes within the IRR program gave me the drive to get through. I learned how to be an EMT, place IVs and advanced airways, perform technical rescues in harsh environments and survive in the wilderness with few provisions. But my most beneficial learning experiences occurred during my senior semester overseas in Central America, where we treated thousands of patients in remote medical clinics. I look back on my education at Union College with no regrets. IRR gave me the chance to be involved and to develop my knowledge of clinical medicine. The passion of the instructors and the friendships with classmates impacted my life immensely. IRR has changed my life and I know I will be a better health care provider because of the experiences I had as an international rescue and relief student.”