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Active Duty Actively Learning In The Navy
by U.S. Navy Seaman Brandon Martin - June 22, 2015

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U.S. Navy SealGREAT LAKES, Ill. - “I was nervous, it's amazing how a moment that you worked so hard for and is supposed to be full of pride and accomplishment can make you so tense,” said Personnel Specialist 3rd Class Joanna Banda, administrative assistant for the Operations Department at Navy Recruiting Command (NRC).

“The walk felt more like 20 miles instead of 20 feet,” continued Banda. “As the Dean reached out with the diploma, I could only imagine myself falling but once my hand touched that plastic folder all my worry and fear was quickly replaced with that feeling of pride and accomplishment that I should have been feeling all along. I had finally done it. I had finally graduated!”

While the uneasiness of graduation day creeps into most students' lives, Banda could take comfort in the fact that she had her shipmates beside her.

Banda and three other active duty Sailors assigned to NRC graduated from their respective colleges May 29, 2015.

Though Banda is just starting her education, the feeling of pride that comes with graduation is apparent in those who are working towards graduate degrees as well.

“Since reporting to NRC in October of 2013, I started working towards my Master's Degree and it took me 17 months,” said Chief Navy Counselor Scott J. Stetz, reserve direct commission officer program manager for the Operations Department at NRC. “It feels wonderful to have the opportunity to complete my Master's before I retire.”

While completing a degree program is an accomplishment in itself, the achievement is even more impressive for those juggling college and full-time active duty service.

“It is an everyday challenge,” said Banda. “When attending college, the courses are not a one day concern, but a semester full of hard work."

 Although it has its challenges, it is very rewarding challenge once you achieve these milestones because it allows you to appreciate your degree. Even though attending college while in the military provides its own unique challenge, there are some upsides as well.

“My graduate degree was difficult too, because they were live classes and lots of homework; however, the best thing about getting my degrees is that it was free,” said Stetz. “Tuition Assistance paid for 100% of my degrees.”

While the college workload is difficult, the graduates agreed that the effort will be rewarding in the future.

Whether or not someone is staying in the Navy or getting out, Stetz stressed the importance of getting an education since outside employers often look for veterans who show an educational background and the will power to learn.

Though Stetz stressed the importance of education professionally, Banda focused on how it can be important personally. “Coming from a minority family, it is a ceiling breaker to achieve a higher education for a better future,” said Banda.

While both Sailors have made preparations for a brighter future, they have some advice for others looking into furthering their education.

“Set some time aside to go to Navy College and get started,” said Stetz. “The hardest part is getting started but after it's all said and done, you'll be glad that you took the time to invest in your future.”

“Always show initiative,” said Banda. “With the support of your chain-of-command and the desire to pursue a degree, anything is possible. There are many sources and resources that can contribute to an education.”

With the assistance of the command and Navy College, Banda was able to earn her Associate's Degree and Stetz completed his Master's Degree in Operational Management.  Other graduates from NRC include: Master Chief Information Systems Technician James White, who completed his Master's Degree, and Chief Yeoman Lasondra Tremble, who finished her Bachelor's Degree.

By U.S. Navy Seaman Brandon Martin
Provided through DVIDS
Copyright 2015

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