By Chief Mass Communication Specialist Jayme Pastoric, Center for Personal and Professional Development Public Affairs
VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (NNS) -- The Center for Personal and Professional Development (CPPD) headquarters celebrated 40 years of the Navy Voluntary Education (VOLED), May 14.
Staff and current and former VOLED pioneers joined together to celebrate the anniversary of the program at CPPD headquarters, located at Naval Air Station Oceana Dam Neck Annex.
The Navy's VOLED program was officially launched May 14, 1974. Since then, thousands of Sailors have taken advantage of educational opportunities leading to a professional credential and/or a college degree.
"Because of the VOLED team's dedication, Sailors like me have attained their educational dreams and created a better, brighter tomorrow for themselves and future generations," said CPPD Commanding Officer Capt. John Newcomer. "Our Sailors' successes are the Navy's successes and have a direct link to Navy mission readiness and accomplishment."
Guest speakers from the Navy VOLED team, past and present, were recognized by Newcomer for their dedication to the VOLED mission and the Sailors it supports.
Kenn Smith joined the Navy VOLED team in 1975 and spoke about how VOLED has grown over the years.
"Through an arrangement with Adm. Grace Hopper, I was able to bring the first computer to Navy Campus in 1985," said Smith, referring to the organization's original name of Navy Campus for Achievement that changed in 1999 to the Navy College Program (NCP). NCP is currently administered by the VOLED directorate of CPPD.
"Looking at Navy College offices today, I am in awe of the research capabilities and nontraditional education opportunities Sailors have," he said.
Director of Navy Voluntary Education Ernest D'Antonio spoke passionately about the VOLED team that works tirelessly to help Sailors achieve their life-long educational and credentialing goals.
"For 40 years, Navy VOLED as an institution has helped hundreds of thousands of Sailors achieve an education and develop critical thinking skills," said D'Antonio. "We support our purpose and the ones who are our mission -- it's the Sailor who is the heart of my organization."
The ceremony concluded with awards celebrating the many successes of VOLED team members and a cake cutting by Newcomer and VOLED trailblazer Sandra Barnes, accompanied by Kathy Jones, the daughter of former Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON) Robert J. Walker, third MCPON of the Navy and VOLED champion.
"Navy VOLED has experienced many changes through its 40 years," said Newcomer. "One thing that hasn't changed is the team's mission to equip Sailors with strong analytical skills through quality educational opportunities, and provide great educational counseling and outstanding customer support."