CAMP HUMPHREYS, South Korea - The Camp Humphreys Army Education Center kicked off American Education Week Monday, Nov. 14 during a brief opening ceremony that featured short speeches by garrison commander, Col. Joseph C. Holland and Troy University professor, Dr. Daniel Pinkston.

Throughout the week the Education Center offered a number of eligibility briefings, school open houses and other informational sessions for prospective students.

One of the highlights of the week was the Soldier success stories, where recent graduates and current student Soldiers spoke about their challenges and motivation in pursuing higher education while on active duty.

Sgt. Sung-su An, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 4-2 Attack Reconnaissance Battalion, spoke about some of the difficulty he had completing his degree,

"When I PCS'd, I was taking nine semester hours. I was going from Korea to LA (Los Angeles) on leave then on to Germany… it was very challenging meeting the due dates," An said.

When asked what allow him to be successful, An credited the institutions the Army provides.

"They allow us the flexibility that when we go to training, those universities allow us to catch up."

For Chief Warrant Officer 2 Yon Chol Chu a Blackhawk pilot with Charlie Company, 3-2 General Support Aviation Battalion, education is a journey.

"Education is a vehicle, you will have a vision on where you want to go but to get there you may need that education to get there," Chu said.

In recent years many have begun to question the value of higher education and degree programs, especially with the increased availability of information on the internet--for many it is easier to Google something.

Chu is an advocate of the benefits schools provide.

"It provides you that structure and through that education and the discipline of going to school, going on that long plan," he said. "It shows you how to have the long game and how to follow through.

"As you get educated, the world that you live in or you perceive to live in get bigger and bigger which will provide you with more opportunities."

Chief Warrant Officer 2 Gary E. Stone Jr. assigned to the 501st Military Intelligence Brigade, stressed that education is a tool.

"It gives you a better broadening of opportunities in the military when you have a degree background but you also have to have the skill set and the passion to get out there and do your job," Stone said. "Don't just do school because it is something to do, do school because it is something that you actually want to learn on the outside."

Most presenters were blunt in the difficulties and obstacles to taking courses while still serving, but all agreed that the sacrifices were more than compensated by the rewards of successfully completing a course of study.

For An, it was finding out what he wanted to do and earning promotion points.

Stone encouraged those in attendance to take the message back to the rest of their formations.

"Soldiers look up to you, you may not know it but every day ten people are looking at you. So take that time out with the Soldiers at lunch to go over some college stuff," he said. "TA (tuition assistance) is one of the best benefits out there, so you can actually save your GI Bill and go from an associates to a bachelors and a masters on the TA program."

American Education Week began nearly 100 years ago in 1919 when, distressed that 25 percent of the country's World War I draftees were illiterate and nine percent were physically unfit, representatives of the National Education Association and the American Legion met to seek ways to generate public support for education.

The first observance of American Education Week occurred Dec. 4-10, 1921, with the National Education Association and American Legion as the cosponsors. A year later, the then U.S. Office of Education joined the effort as a cosponsor, and the PTA followed in 1938. Individuals interested in continuing their education should contact the Humphreys Army Education Center at 753-8902 or stop by in Bldg. S300.