Derek graduated from UC Davis in 2012 with a bachelor's degree in Managerial Economics and a minor in Communication. He became an EMT through UC Davis’ Outdoor Adventures and received his Firefighter I certification through the California Regional Fire Academy, from which he graduated in 2010. That same year, he was hired as a Student Resident Firefighter with the UC Davis Fire Department and remained in the program until his graduation.
During his college career, Derek was also a wildland firefighter for the Davis Fire Crew, a reserve firefighter for the Woodland Fire Department, and a volunteer firefighter for the Dixon Fire Department.
In February 2013, Derek rejoined the UC Davis Fire family, when he was hired as a career firefighter and was promoted to Fire Engineer in 2018.