Adelle Hart had been on a personal journey to find her purpose in life when the Alpharetta resident woke up one morning, convinced that she had discovered it.
As a young girl living in a small town in South Africa, where other little girls her age dreamt of growing up to become teachers or doctors, Hart always dreamt of traveling to the United States. So, in 2015 at the age of 25, she took a leap of faith, crammed all of her belongings into a suitcase, and set her sights on the land of opportunity.
With little money and few resources, she landed comfortably in the role of au pair for an American family in North Carolina; six months later moved to Alpharetta. She soon learned the American culture, fell in love, married and is now settled nicely in Alpharetta.
But something was still missing. Hart felt unfulfilled in one particular area of her life — her career. She used the power of prayer, faith and patience to guide her, and it led her down the path of becoming a firefighter.
“I was always intrigued by the big fire trucks when driving past the fire station,” Hart said. “I woke up one morning and told my husband that I was going to become a firefighter.”
That same day, and with the support of her family, Hart walked into Alpharetta Fire Station No. 81, where she was welcomed by the firemen on duty. They gave her the tools she needed to begin her next journey.
“[The firemen] introduced me to the Alpharetta Fire Corps, which is a volunteer organization that supports the Alpharetta Department of Public Safety,” she said. “I learned the basics of firefighting and got to do a few ride-alongs. I put on bunker gear for the first time, and I knew that this was my calling.”
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, only 4 percent of firefighters are women, but that fact and the rigorous training that lay ahead didn’t stop Hart from reaching her goal. She attended the Georgia Fire Academy in Forsyth, Georgia.
She trained hard to pass her physical agility test. Any self-doubt she might have had was overshadowed by her determination and willpower.
“There were a few times when I thought I’d never get hired since it’s a competitive job, but it never crossed my mind to give up,” she said. “You have to physically and mentally prepare yourself every day.”
In 8 weeks, Hart completed her basic training and received her certificate in May of 2018. She also earned her EMT (emergency medical technician) certification and is in the process of taking her AEMT (advanced emergency medical technician) exam.
“Our training never stops,” she said.
After the overcoming the rigors of basic training and 18 months of volunteering, Hart is now a full-time firefighter. Even though she is the only female at Alpharetta Fire Station No. 83, she considers her male colleagues her second family.
“Everyone shares the same vision and is dedicated to the mission, which is to help people,” she said. “This truly creates a family environment, where everybody (male or female) is there for each other. I’ve gained a lot of brothers.”
For Hart, one of the highlights of her job is putting on her bunker gear and boots.
“It reminds me of how hard I’ve worked to get to where I am and to stay humble,” she said.
But she also loves how rewarding it feels to know she is making a difference in her community.
“To be able to make a difference in someone else’s life is the best gift you can give yourself,” she said.
Hart said she hopes to inspire young girls with dreams of their own.
“To know that I inspire young girls is incredible, especially girls who think they don’t fit in,” she said. “There was a time I didn’t think I fit in.”
Her advice to the next generation of girls seeking to overcome adversity is, “Be yourself and love yourself. Be strong, be fearless and beautiful, and believe that anything is possible when you have the right people to support you.”
Hart said she feels inspired by her accomplishments and admits that it feeds her motivation.
“It pushes me to be better, because I have a responsibility to not just the citizens [of Alpharetta], but also my fellow firefighters,” she said. “I’ve never been so proud of what I do, and nothing excites me more than my profession and helping people in their time of need.”