As with most things in life, education is key to success. The military – Navy specifically – is no different. This blog post, written with the help of Mass Communications Specialist 2nd Class Salt Cebe, tells how a Sailor from Naval Air Station (NAS) Jacksonville is taking advantage of the many opportunities for higher education offered by the Navy.
Aviation Boatswain’s Mate 1st Class Nnamdi Emenogu has only four classes left to complete before earning his bachelor’s degree in Public Health from the American Military University. Nnamdi has been in the Navy for a little more than nine years and said his chain of command has always supported his educational goals and helped him to keep on course. What makes this pending accomplishment more impressive is that Nnamdi had not taken any classes before he joined the Navy and credits all of his success to the programs available to Sailors through the Navy College Program.
The Navy College Program’s mission is to provide continual academic support to Sailors while they pursue a technical or college degree, regardless of their location or duty station. Nnamdi said he knew that the Navy provided great schooling opportunities without the hassle of student loans, so he just had to, “get it done.” He started off taking Navy College Program for Afloat College Education (NCPACE) courses while at sea, and when he required a greater variety of courses, the Navy College Office was there to help him with tuition assistance. Vicki O’Toole, director of the Navy College Office NAS Jacksonville, helped guide Nnamdi down the appropriate path towards his ultimate goal of earning a degree. She called Nnamdi a wonderful example of a Sailor who sets a goal and pays attention to what is available through the Navy College Office to develop himself personally and professionally.
While maintaining a 3.74 grade point average, Nnamdi earned NAS Jacksonville Sailor of the Year honors and was promoted to the rank of first class petty officer. It has taken him less time to earn a degree because he used his Sailor/Marine American Council on Education Registry Transcript, or SMART. SMART documents the amount of American Council on Education (ACE) college credit recommended for military training and occupational experience that Sailors receive through their career. SMART is an academically accepted record that is validated by ACE with the primary purpose of helping service members obtain college credit for their military experience. Through use of his SMART transcript and documented military education/background, Nnamdi obtained 12 college credits toward completion of his degree saving him time and money. He was able to eliminate taking four classes because they were already in his record.
Nnamdi says he will keep furthering his education as he plans to pursue a master’s degree next. He feels a sense of accomplishment, and sees himself as a role model for those Sailors who think the task is too daunting to tackle; his supervisors agree. Lt. Cmdr. Michael Chan, NAS Jacksonville operations officer, said Nnamdi’s educational pursuit have made him a better Sailor and – more importantly – a better leader. Chan added the importance of conveying a positive message: that it’s possible to earn a degree while still performing military duties at a high level.
For Nnamdi, as a leader and mentor, completing a degree only serves to reinforce the importance and need for higher education. Professionally, earning a degree creates more opportunities for a diverse career path. Nnamdi has goals of becoming a commissioned naval officer and, eventually, become a public health official in the civilian sector.
A Sailor’s local Navy College Office – or the Virtual Education Center - is a great resource for helping plan out his or her education journey. Education professionals at the Navy College Office are available to help Sailors with their education plan which includes a review of the SMART and development of an Individual Education Plan tailored to them. The Center for Personal and Professional Development‘s virtual education program is a conduit for equipping Sailors with strong analytical skills, the ability to make informed decisions, and avenues to pursue their life-long educational and credentialing goals. Navy College supports the personal and professional growth of Sailors helping them earn degrees which help make them invaluable assets to the Navy. It’s an important part of the 21st Century Sailor and Marine initiative which consolidates a set of objectives and policies, new and existing, to maximize Sailor and Marine personal readiness, build resiliency and hone the most combat-effective force in the history of the Department of the Navy.