Education program enlightens Airmen

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Shane M. Phipps
  • 30th Space Wing Public Affairs
Since the early 1970s, when the Community College of the Air Force was established, the Air Force has been a step ahead in providing, and encouraging, further educational opportunities for enlisted Airmen.

Today, the CCAF offers more than 65 Associates of Applied Science degree programs and various Air Force bases, including Vandenberg, boast education centers staffed with qualified counselors -- ready to assist Airmen with all things CCAF.

"As early as 1972, our Air Force leadership envisioned that Air Force enlisted personnel would need improved educational programs to meet future technological and leadership challenges," said Barbara Bennie, 30th Force Support Squadron force development flight chief. "The result of this vision enabled Community College of the Air Force to provide the opportunities for us to combine technical training with general education course work from civilian accredited colleges and universities."

Vandenberg's education center has built a positive reputation because of committed employees taking the extra time to go above and beyond for their students.

"Our program is unique because we have a dedicated person attending to all CCAF matters," said Dorian Hodge, 30th FSS CCAF advisor. "I do everything from counseling students on CCAF degree requirements and methods for completing those requirements, to reviewing CCAF records, to coordinating with the CCAF for record correction or credit application. We also reach out to students who are close to finishing their CCAF degree to provide encouragement and to answer any specific questions they may have."

As a result of devoted personnel running an advanced and comprehensive education system, recognition for the program has been commonplace.

"With dedicated CCAF advisors, we have made a difference one student at a time," said Bennie. "Vandenberg education services have contributed to major CCAF milestones with record graduation classes and the highest percentage of graduates in Air Force Space Command. The 30th Space Wing education center has been recognized for outstanding performance and commitment to educational excellence."

The educational precedence the center has created proves to be a testament to the importance all wing leadership places on higher learning.

"Our high graduation numbers directly reflect the emphasis VAFB leaders have on education, as well as the dedication of our Airmen toward realizing their educational goals despite the rigors of balancing work, school, family responsibilities and their personal lives," said Hodge. "I have the best job in the world, and it is so gratifying to see the results of our CCAF program when our graduates receive their diplomas at the bi-annual graduations."

An educated enlisted force serves to support Airmen interests while also bolstering overall mission capabilities.

"The military members who complete a CCAF degree contribute to the mission by becoming a better leader, a more critical thinker and an improved employee," said Bennie. "Our Air Force promotes individuals with the potential to succeed at the next level and having a CCAF degree adds value for the member and the Air Force."

For Hodge, assisting Airmen with their educational goals is more than her occupational responsibility - it's her passion.

"My advice to Airmen is to just jump right in," she said. "Although it can be difficult to juggle school while working and trying to balance family and personal responsibilities -- it is worth it! It may seem overwhelming, but just taking it one class at a time can make the task seem less daunting. Airmen should take as much advantage of their educational benefits as possible, not only toward realizing their own individual goals but their family members' goals as well. Education is a vital key to unlocking the doors of opportunity."