CAMP ZAMA, Japan (Nov. 21, 2016) - - Eighteen community members, including nine Soldiers, participated in a graduation recognition ceremony hosted by Camp Zama Education Center Nov. 15 at the Community Recreation Center.

Family members, friends, co-workers, and supervisors who supported the graduates along the way were there to share in their moment as they received their degrees on stage.

David Rood, education services officer for CZEC, said the purpose of this event is to provide Soldiers, Civilians, and community members who cannot travel to their schools an opportunity to graduate.

"We tried to provide something here at Camp Zama to save them a lot of time and money," said Rood.

Rood said although it is not easy for Soldiers and Civilians to go to school, having the opportunity overseas is really great.

Rood said CZEC provides a variety of educational service to include: classes from the University of Maryland's Asian Division and Central Texas College, the Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support testing, the College-Level Examination Program (CLEP) testing, and a multi learning facility.

"It's really up to the individual to make the goals ... achieve the goals step by step and class by class," said Rood, "soon or later you will finish."

"It is a lot of work but if I can do it...anybody can do it," said Irvin Taylor, doctoral degree graduate and acting deputy to the commander for U.S. Army Garrison Japan.

Taylor said acquiring knowledge through education opens up a lot of other opportunities.

Sgt. 1st Class David Thorpe, assigned to U.S. Army Japan and bachelor's degree graduate, said he realized not all military skills correlate to civilian skills after attending a transition classes.

"Bridging the gap with education is key and extremely helpful seeking opportunities outside the military," said Thorpe.

Sgt. 1st Class Kimara White, assigned to U.S. Army Japan, who graduated with an associate's degree, said, "I feel so accomplished and I am ready for the next level of my life."

White said the younger Soldiers should get out there and purse all of the education possible before it's too late.

"Without education it's hard to advance," said White.

Maj. Gen. James F. Pasquarette, commander of US Army Japan & I Corps (Forward), said none of the problems "we grab" within the Army is easy, and it takes somebody with education, and a different perspective, to work through the tough problems.

The Army invests in people and see the importance of education because it makes the Army better - along with making the individual more marketable and having more opportunities, said Pasquarette.

"I encourage everybody to continue their education because the U.S. Army values it," said Pasquarette.