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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

My educational journey: Persistence in the face of life

by Tech. Sgt. Burke Mills
412 TW Command Post


10/30/2013 - EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- My educational journey began as a staff sergeant in 2008 while stationed in Hawaii. No longer could I continue to pretend that I was making personal and professional progress without committing to a serious educational journey. While I had been a highly successful military professional up to that point, I had not yet begun to see the benefits of committing to a degree program (traditional, online, or trade) and simply taking the approach that I needed to make myself "better" if you will. My good friend was enrolled in a program and I drew my initial inspiration to start from him.

I began taking night classes in the spring of 2008 and soon completed my CCAF. I retrained into the Command Post career field in early 2009 and got back to work. I completed a second CCAF in 2010 and then completed my Bachelor of Arts in Social and Criminal Justice from Ashford University in early 2012. After earning my BA, I immediately jumped into a graduate program (with Ashford as well) and earned my master's degree in education (Teaching and Learing with Technology) in the summer of 2013.

Since my "serious" journey began in 2008, I've PCS'd three times, travelled on multiple TDY's, balanced family and fitness, and worked many uncoventional schedules. The point being, life is always going to present challenges -- but those challenges bring opportunity. I think my educational journey best exemplifies persistance in the face of life. I can think of a million reasons why I shouldn't do something productive that will better myself and the world today; but can I actually think of a good one?

In my opinion, any endeavor that teaches a skill, improves critical thinking abilities, or provides education and training is worth pursuing. While I view education as an important milestone within this journey we call life, I will never view my achievements as being over or complete. People will draw multiple and unique benefits from an advanced education or particular training program, but I can say that my confidence, my ability to analyze and critically think, and my time management skills have sharpened immensely. Not to mention, skills and/or talents sharpened in an academic or trade program are easily translatable to other areas in one's life. Perspective and world views are enlightened. Brains and minds are meant to be challenged. Once we stop challenging ourselves, what else is left for us to accomplish?

As serving members in the United States Armed Forces, we are afforded premier educational benefits. These include the Post 9-11 GI Bill, military tuition assistance, spouse tuition assistance, various federal and state grants, etc. I encourage you to do your research and take advantage. I've never met a person that was worse after having completed an educational journey.

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