National Education Expo highlights military resources - Camp Lejeune Globe: Carolina Living

National Education Expo highlights military resources

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Posted: Thursday, April 25, 2019 2:30 pm

What comes next?

Serving in the military is a commitment that doesn’t always leave time to ask that question. Service members are usually either working, thinking about working or enjoying the occasional minute or so of down time that occasionally pops up.

Marine Corps Community Services (MCCS) and 78 educational institutions and entities attended the National Education Expo at Goettge Memorial Field House, April 24, to help service members thinking about their education answer the question of what’s next.

The expo served as an opportunity for active-duty military, retired service members and military dependents to survey their options to or continue their education. Schools in attendance included both local institutions such as Coastal Carolina Community College (CCCC) and ones seemingly a world away like Western Michigan University (WMU) in Kalamazoo, Michigan. For all institutions involved, distance education was a focus.

“Having an opportunity to finish or start your degree while you’re still in is essential,” said Ashley Goodwin, a military outreach and recruitment specialist with WMU. “For a lot of active duty or guys getting out, they’ve been out of school for four or more years. For those coming out to a brick-and-mortar school, it can be difficult to transition at first.”

For a number of colleges, that military presence was very visible in their distance programs.

“We just did a feedback survey, and a majority of our (military student services) students are active duty online or on-site military dependents,” said Brianna Ford, director of military student services at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee.

“Twenty-eight percent of our students in MBA (Masters of Business Administration Program) are military. Half of them go to class online,” said Bridget Miller, a military admissions recruiter from Regent University in Virginia Beach, Virginia.

Distance education appealed to some Marines in attendance.

“With online classes, I didn’t really know much about them or how to start doing them,” said Lance Cpl. Travis Treve, a radio operator with 10th Marine Regiment. “Command told us about this, so I came out to learn more about it. As far as schools go, I’m staying open minded about which one I’d go to. I’m interested in doing something with computers. Maybe IT.”

“We’re just looking for opportunities,” said Lance Cpl. James Dankovitch, a radio operator with 10th Marine Regiment.

“One of the main reasons I love this event is because it’s a visual display,” said Dr. Daryl Minus, branch manager with the MCCS education assistance program. “We want our Marines and service members to look at you (school representatives) as an interconnected ecosystem of resources which they can use.”

Minus added that the expo was about making education opportunities visible for service members and their families.

“These events are about exposure,” Minus said. “The more you can expose our servicemen and women to what’s out there, the more likely they are to find a niche they can fit into. … Whether it’s finding that niche on active duty or when they’re transitioning, these events are here to at least give them an idea.”

Campbell University’s Camp Lejeune campus was a primary sponsor of the event.

“It’s about showing the camaraderie among these institutions,” said Julianne Rowland, office manager for Campbell University. “It’s a great way to prove education is for anyone.”

“Serving is hard. Getting an education shouldn’t be,” added Wendy Romine, an enrollment facilitator and academic advisor with Campbell University.

MCCS had representatives from its Marine and Family Program available to discuss educational resources available to active-duty Marines and Sailors.

“We can help active-duty students or their families with the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid),” said Emily Baisden, a personal financial counselor assigned to MCCS. “If there are questions about tax concepts or how to link with the IRS, we can help with that. We’ll show military the difference between subsidized and unsubsidized loans or help them get started with loan rehabilitation.”

The Posse Foundation is a service to help veterans maintain their finances in top colleges.

“We send vets in a group, or posse, of 10 to visit our partner schools,” said Posse Foundation Representative Clareese Saunders. “Our partners will cover the cost of school even if a veteran’s post 9/11 GI Bill runs out. It’s a serious problem that veterans sometimes can’t maintain the cost of education. We want to fix that.”

Along with that financial help were individuals assigned to helping service members with their actual schooling.

“I have students come in who just need to be able to sit and talk,” said Rhonda Mobley, an education technician with MCCS. “It’s a stressful field to be in, and putting education on top of family and the job can be difficult. I’m there to listen to them. We use our resources to show them the whole scope of what they’re looking for, whether it’s understanding what they want to do next or focusing on something more specific.”

Tutoring programs can help military students refresh on some concepts that haven’t been visited for a while.

“If people see some algebra that hasn’t popped up in 10 years, we can help with that,” said Maureen Honey with Tutor.com. “We also offer tutoring for military dependents in K-12 and active duty for free.”

For those hesitant to take that first step, delegates from certain schools could vouch for the importance of education for military members. Jeff Netzniki got out of the Marine Corps as a sergeant in 1975. Now, he’s helping service members at East Carolina University through the same program that helped him.

“I know this program works,” Netzniki said. “Everyone is going to transition out at some point and that military experience and service counts. Anyone who says their military service doesn’t count (in education) is wrong. We benefit from a military viewpoint. It’s a global perspective. You have younger students who are in class saying ‘My dad told me’ and these veterans or active duty can say ‘I saw this.’ It’s a benefit for us in the classroom or online.”

For more information on programs to help with education, visit www.mccslejeune-newriver.com/edu.

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