By Eric Durr, New York State Division of Military and Naval Affairs June 15, 2017
ALBANY, N.Y. -Chief Warrant Officer 3 Doug Sherman started his college education in 1979. He finished on Saturday, June 3, 2017.
Sherman, age 56, the warrant officer recruiter for the New York Army National Guard Recruiting and Retention Battalion graduated with a degree in business management and economics from Empire State College.
It took three years of late nights and long weekends to finish what he had started as an 18-year old Marine Corps recruit, Sherman said, but it was worth it.
When I leave the Army my goal is to teach Junior ROTC, Sherman said. To do this I need a degree.
So he decided to use the Post 9/11 GI Bill education benefit he'd earned through two Afghanistan deployments-and some federal military education aid-- and get that degree, even though most students working on their four-year degree are under 25.
"I wanted to pursue this opportunity," Sherman said. "My working life will be well into my late 60's."
Sherman started taking college classes at night at the University of South Carolina as a young Marine. The he joined the Army and spent four years in Germany during the 1980s and took classes there.
But when he left the Army life happened and he didn't pursue college again.
"A lot of life happened in all those spaces. It never seemed to be the right time for me to sit down and focus on my education," Sherman said. In 2002 he joined the Army Reserve in Florida as an MP and then he went to Afghanistan. He moved to New York, joined the National Guard, entered the warrant officer program in 2009 and deployed to Afghanistan again with the 27th Infantry Brigade Combat Team in 2012.
In 2014 he decided it was time to do something about getting that college degree so he enrolled in Empire State College. The State University of New York School specializes in adult nontraditional college students.
The school is military friendly and it gave him credit for his warrant officer training course and the basic noncommissioned officer course, as well as other training, Sherman said.
The school is a mix of online education, meeting with professors and weekend classes, he said.
He started with 50 credits, but it still took a lot of long hours to do the work of learning college level math and English.
"Towards the very end, there were nights when I was up until midnight, "he said. "Finishing my last paper I could barely keep my eyes open, but I kept telling myself the finish line is really close."
In the end, it was all worth it, said Sherman.
"I think any of us, whether it's the younger ones, the older ones or the middle ages ones, we are looking to improve ourselves,' he said.
"I want to let people know there are opportunities that we should take advantage of," said Sherman.