I remember the feeling of absolute pride and accomplishment when I received my first associate's degree. I received it six years after joining the U.S. Armed Forces and the sense of pride and accomplishment was also met with a mutual feeling of embarrassment that it had taken me so long.
You see, I had joined to attain my education, and by education, I 100% mean a bachelors degree.
I'll never forget the day I attended my first course at a local community college at my first duty assignment. My first stop, after proving to my supervisor I had the intellectual bandwidth to attend college and handle on the job training, was the installation's education office. I was informed of the available classes that were available to me given my associates degree, so without hesitation, I enrolled. I felt as if I was on top of the world, barely turned 18, had a full-time job and was attending college full time. I felt that I was living the dream.
On September 11th, I awoke from that dream as the military I knew changed overnight. I remember attending classes a week later and not being able to make up work. My heart was crushed and I was unable to comprehend how the institution lacked a support structure for the military student population.
Fast-forward 17 years, during a time of trying to self-teach with video tapes, DVD's, and online education, I will tell you that both the student and the educational world have come a long way in building bridges. I'm beyond grateful for the current opportunities as well as exceeding my goal of attaining that bachelors degree!
Thankfully, at a young age, I understood the value of education, even with my limited scope of understanding the available degree programs. Through trial and error, and with the assistance of mentors, I'm now pursuing a Doctorate of Business Administration (DBA). As CEO of Centurion Military Alliance, continuing my higher education journey enhances not only my brand, but raises the profile of that organization's worthy cause.
Lessons Learned/My Advice:
Educational Benefits - You've Earned Them
It is my sincerest hope that the military service member, spouse, or dependent take full advantage of their educational benefits. We are servant leaders who adhere to strong military disciplines and core values. I encourage you to ensure that you're taking care of yourself, your families, and your brothers and sisters in uniform by fostering a community of lifelong learners.
Chaunte Hall, a 15-year military veteran, is CEO of Centurion Military Alliance, an organization that helps active duty and veteran men and women address the challenges related to successfully reintegrating from the military to civilian life. She is a current student in Trident's Doctor of Business Administration program.