SSGs earn their Bachelor's Degrees
Staff Sgts. Patricia Faris and James Bouthchyard proudly display their new diplomas. (Photos by Liz Adrian)

ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL, Ill. -- She started her journey in 1976 wanting to play in an orchestra and his began with a baseball scholarship in 1998. Though their journeys began differently, both came to fruition recently, as they completed their bachelor's degrees.

Army Contracting Command-Rock Island contract specialists Staff Sgts. Patricia L. Faris and James W. Boutchyard said they are thrilled to have received their degrees, especially given the length of time it took to obtain them.

Faris received her degree in liberal arts with a focus on psychology from Excelsior College's online program on Sept. 27. When she started in 1976, her major was in music at Mars Hill College in North Carolina, but other pursuits took her away from completing this degree.

"I played the flute and piccolo in the orchestra at the Asheville North Carolina Community Theater for a while, and I even got paid so I guess you could say I was a professional," said Faris.

Faris said her biggest challenge was that she never really knew what she wanted to be.

"I studied music, accounting, got my paralegal certification in California, and finally stumbled on psychology and loved it," said Faris. "When I finally found my focus, I also found that I was very close to getting my degree."

Boutchyard started in 1998 at South Georgia College, Douglas, Ga., on a baseball scholarship and transferred to the University of Maryland where he played during the 1999-2000 season. After that, he took a break from baseball and college to pursue a career as a kitchen design and remodeling contractor.

In May 2008, Boutchyard enlisted in the Army and soon enrolled at the University of Phoenix. He continued his class work through a move to Fort Carson, Colo., and a February 2011 deployment to Iraq.

"It was a challenge for me to be able to manage the high operating tempo at work and school at the same time," said Boutchyard. "However I was successful and I returned to Fort Carson having almost completed my degree."

Required Army leadership development courses drew him away from working on his bachelor's degree. As he was completing these leadership courses, he was accepted to the 51C Acquisitions, Logistics, and Technology Non-Commissioned Officer reclassification program.

Boutchyard said he was able to juggle course work for his bachelor's degree concurrent to attending the Army Acquisition Foundation Course and Army Basic Contracting Course. He completed the classes for his bachelor's degree shortly after reporting to ACC-RI in spring 2013, and graduated from University of Phoenix with a Bachelor of Science in Management on July 20.

Both Faris and Boutchyard said they were relieved to have their degrees and they want to work on their master's degrees.

"My next dream is to work as a veteran's advocate. I have found a school in New York that offers a veteran's advocacy certification program that is embedded in its master's program," said Faris.

Boutchyard said he plans on starting his master's degree in 2014.

"I still haven't picked out the program or school yet, but I will continue to push forward and hopefully finish that before I leave Rock Island," said Boutchyard.

Page last updated Wed December 11th, 2013 at 00:00