Olivia Seagraves, 14, learns how to put on an oxygen mask during the annual Girl Scouts of Southern Arizona Camp Fury.

This story was created by #ThisIsTucson and underwritten by Girl Scouts of Southern Arizona, helping girls make the world a better place. Thank you for supporting the local organizations that support us!


We all know the Tucson community has a big heart. 

From nonprofit organizations and volunteers to people who make a career out of serving others, there are plenty of public servants to admire. 

Like these two women who care about giving back to their communities. 

Cheryl Horvath, 59, is the fire chief for Tubac Fire District and co-founded the Girl Scouts of Southern Arizona's weeklong Camp Fury for high school girls interested in public safety careers.

And Alina Rowe, 42, is a public services librarian and branch manager at the Woods Memorial Library who helps people access information with kindness and respect. 

Editor's note: These answers have been edited for length and clarity. 

Meet Cheryl Horvath

Horvath moved to Tucson in 2006 after being hired as a battalion chief for Northwest Fire. Before that she worked for 13 years in Illinois with the Urbana Fire Department. Mountain Vista serves nearly 38,000 customers.

When did you know you wanted to pursue this career? How did you know? 

I came into the fire service in my early 30s after working in another public service sector previously. I decided to make a career change and was drawn to the fire service immediately.

What challenges have you encountered along the way? 

Women represent less than four percent in the fire service, so the obvious challenge was working in a non-traditional field. I was honestly surprised at the resistance to women in the fire service but was also fortunate to have plenty of male allies early in my career. However, it was obvious that I needed to prove myself every day on the job to attempt to overcome the naysayers. That turned out to be great motivation to me, although at times it did get difficult (and still does today) knowing that women are generally held to a higher standard than others.

What makes this career worthwhile to you? 

Serving the public at their time of need is definitely the most fulfilling part of the job. People generally like firefighters so we are treated very well by the public. Working with a team and being part of a family in the firehouse and/or in the larger organization are also great benefits to the job.

How does it feel to serve your community in this way? 

Serving the community is my motivation to go to work every day and has been for the last 27 years. Whether we are helping on an emergency scene or presenting a public safety program, our interaction with the public is very rewarding.

What would you say to encourage other girls and women to pursue a career in public service? 

Public safety, and the fire service specifically, are great careers for women as we bring so much to the table to enhance emergency services. The fire service is challenging and very rewarding at the same time. Be part of public service, regardless if you participate professionally or volunteer to give back to the community.

Meet Alina Rowe

Alina Rowe is the branch manager at Woods Memorial Library

When did you know you wanted to pursue this career? How did you know? 

I was a middle school teacher, and I was looking at master degree options to continue my personal growth. I learned about the Knowledge River – School of Information program that the University of Arizona offered, and it sparked my curiosity. Never in a million years had I imagined becoming a librarian. There were many areas of librarianship that I could have focused on, but my heart led me to Public Services Librarian. Serving diverse populations, especially underserved communities, is what lured me in! I felt this was the type of librarianship I was destined for. In this field, I realized, I could help develop and provide services, programs, and information with compassion, understanding, and most all, kindness.

What challenges have you encountered along the way? 

Challenges I have encountered have been varied. Working with the public can be extremely challenging at times but having amazing staff and supervisors make challenges a little less rough when we are united and are one another’s support system.

What makes this career worthwhile to you? 

This career is worthwhile because of the impact I have on communities that may not have a voice, knowledge or the means to seek out information on their own. Knowing you can create a place where people can gather, read, learn new things and feel welcomed is key. When people leave the library feeling they found a place where they can get help, answers or space, that makes me happy. That makes it all worthwhile.

How does it feel to serve your community in this way? 

Even when there are challenges, my takeaway is knowing I had many more pleasant interactions than difficult ones. It is an amazing feeling when you are able to help people in any capacity. When people seek you out specifically in order to help them, you know you are doing something right, you know you are treating them with genuine care and respect.

What would you say to encourage other girls and women to pursue a career in public service? 

Many people believe that being a librarian is all about books and reading all day, but the truth of the matter is, it’s not. Public Services Librarians do deal with books, yes, but in some capacity we are also teachers, job help providers, programmers, marketers, artists, advocates, safe space providers, social workers, public servants, protectors of privacy, agents of information, problem solvers, advocates for the underserved — and we try to do it all under the one title of Librarian. So you see, we have no time to read all day. If you love serving your community and others, become a librarian. You will not be disappointed.

Got a girl interested in public service? Here are a few ways she can get started. 

Your teens can volunteer with Pima County Teen Court, a diversion program for teens who have been arrested and admitted guilt. They receive a sentence from a jury of peers instead of going through the juvenile justice system. All participants are teens, except for the judge. Teen volunteers are ages 12-18, and positions include jury, clerk/bailiff and teen attorney. Go here for more information. 

Teens 14 and older can volunteer with the Pima County Public Library. Volunteers sort and shelve books and help with a variety of library programs. Call the location nearest to you to see what kind of volunteer needs that branch has. Go here for more information. 

The Girl Scouts of Southern Arizona and several local law enforcement agencies put on Camp Fury each year for teen girls ages 15-18. Girls rappel over the edge of a building, climb a fire truck ladder and learn about public safety. The cost is $500. Go here for more information. 

Find a local Girl Scout troop

Make new friends? Give back to the community? She’ll do all that and more at Girl Scouts! Whether she’s exploring nature and the outdoors, expressing herself through art or music, designing robots or board games, or helping her community through service projects, she’ll have a blast as she earns badges in just about anything that piques her interest. Get ready, because she’s going to make the world a better place — today and for the next generation!