By MC2 Diana Quinlan, Navy Public Affairs Support Element West, Detachment Hawaii
The 2014 Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam (JBPHH) military college graduation recognition ceremony took place Nov. 7 at the Hickam Enlisted Club.
More than 60 service members, their families, friends, mentors and commands attended the ceremony, which honored and recognized Airmen, Sailors and Soldiers based in Hawaii who have graduated from colleges and universities this year.
Navy Command Master Chief Jack Johnson, command master chief of JBPHH, and Air Force Chief Master Sgt. James Smith, the 15th Wing command chief, were masters of ceremonies.
“All recipients have earned their degrees while simultaneously balancing their academic responsibilities with their demanding military duties,” said Smith.
“Many have sacrificed years of little personal time to pursue this personal and professional enrichment. We have all gathered here today to recognize them for their commitment to education while persevering through these challenges.”
Air Force Col. David Kirkendall, deputy commander of JBPHH, provided opening remarks; Navy Capt. Stanley Keeve Jr., commander of JBPHH, addressed graduates as a guest speaker; and Air Force Col. Randall Huiss, commander of 15th Wing, provided closing remarks.
“Graduates, today is the culmination of what you have been working for. Congratulations,” said Kirkendall in his address.
“It’s an incredible accomplishment, an amazing signal of your dedication to your own betterment, being consistent with what is going on with the outside world or with your particular job that you have in the military,” Kirkendall said.
Kirkendall touched on the ever-growing importance of education in today’s military and society.
“Education keeps us relevant and in tune with what is going on. And even if this is the last time you ever wanted to see the academic pursuit again in your life, or this is maybe the first step on the path to further education, I will offer this to you. That whether or not you continue your education, having that aperture open can change the world around you, can benefit you in your pursuits in the military and in your transition,” he said.
Keeve thanked families and friends for their support to the service members in their pursuit for higher education. Additionally, he praised graduates’ commands and mentors for dedication to their Airmen, Sailors and Soldiers.
Keeve encouraged graduates to always move forward, to evolve and continue the learning process to benefit oneselves and the world around them.
“Serving in the military, taking college courses, deploying, work schedule, home life it is challenging. Earning a degree is never easy. But today you have completed the first step of reaching your true potential,” said Keeve.
“Remember, your true lessons acquired is that the education truly never stops. I implore you, go further, find your passion, use your education to reach your potential, and finally, keep moving.”
Each graduate in attendance was recognized and presented with the certificate of recognition awarded by Huiss and Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Charles Orf.
“It was really important to have the support of my command, and it is great that I work at the place that allows us to better ourselves, be better for the Navy, and it feels fantastic to be able to accomplish this,” said Builder 2nd Class Anna Figueroa, assigned to the Construction Battalion Maintenance Unit (CBMU) 303.
“I would advise [service members] to just try one class, get your foot in the door. It is not going to hurt you only help. Get through [the] first class and see where it will take you,” she said.
Figueroa received her degree in associate of art in supervision and management.
Tech. Sgt. Raphael Torres Jr., assigned to headquarters Pacific Air Forces A6, received his certificate for completing dual bachelor degrees in organizational management and project management with summa cum laude honors.
“It is an amazing feeling to walk across this stage, and the base leadership and support staff did an outstanding job in coordinating this event and overall made it a well-feeling day for completing a multi-year ‘plan of attack’,” he said as he offered suggestions to those who consider pursuing future education.
“At the beginning, if you are hesitant, start out slowly, one or two classes, and once you get your feet on the solid ground, do it more consistently. Push yourself; it’s worth it.”