By Wendy ArevaloOctober 21, 2019
After years of hard work, sacrifice and dedication, several 1st Theater Sustainment Command (TSC) Soldiers donned their caps and gowns and walked across the stage at the 4th annual Fort Knox College Graduation Ceremony Oct. 17, 2019.
"It feels great," said Sgt. Adina Lenser, property book noncommissioned officer (NCO), 1st TSC, when asked how she felt about earning her degree. "It really feels like a step I never thought I would actually reach, because sometimes life happens, and you have to stop going to school and take breaks, but I got there."
Lenser is just one of the 1st TSC Soldiers who participated in the ceremony, which was held at Waybur Theater. Lenser completed her bachelor's degree in English language and literature from Southern New Hampshire University in September.
Lenser said she has been chipping away at her degree for five years now. With two young children, ages 1 and 6, and a full-time job in the Army, finding time to study was hard.
"You have so much that you need to do in one day and you don't always have time for it," said the 27-year-old Chattanooga, Tenn. native. "I like working out in the gym, but I can't when I have to do discussion board posts," Lenser said. "It's really about finding time after I put the kids to bed and being able to sit down and have some quiet time for homework."
Sgt. 1st Class Dana Mister, assistant inspector general, 1st TSC, said it took five years to complete her degree as well. She said it was challenging finding time for school in between deployments, field exercises, military missions, and raising two children.
"It was one of my long term goals," Mister said. "It took me a while to get there, but it was just something I always wanted to do."
Mister, a Teaneck, N.J. native, will receive her bachelors in criminal justice, with an emphasis on forensics, from Liberty University in December.
Sally Ann Ingle, a guidance counselor at the Fort Knox Education Center, said since the ceremony is only held once a year, they allow students to participate even if they still have a semester left to complete.
She said students that graduated prior to the ceremony were also still eligible to participate.
"We recognize the fact that deployments and [permanent change of station] moves can keep graduates from being able to participate, so graduates can participate even if they finished their degree earlier than this semester," said Ingle. "We want to make sure they're offered the opportunity."
Sgt. 1st Class Kerrilee Case, maintenance management NCO, Support Operations (SPO), 1st TSC, is a perfect example of this.
Case completed her bachelor's degree in psychology from Upper Iowa University in August 2015. She was serving as an advanced individual training (AIT) platoon sergeant at Fort Lee, Va., but wasn't able to participate in a graduation ceremony due to her work commitments.
The Stigler, Okla. native said she is looking forward to wearing her cap and gown.
"I'm excited because I didn't get to take my picture in my cap and gown and I graduated with honors, cum laude, so I have my honors cord and that's a big accomplishment for me," Case said. "Just being able to wear my cap and gown, even though I did it in 2015, I'm excited about it, because I never got any pictures with it or anything. It's just been sitting in my closet."
Case was the student speaker at the event. In her speech, she recommended that individuals do things that take them out of their comfort zone-including college. She said to just start with the first step: sign up for a class.
She admitted that seeing the degree through to the end is going to be challenging, but can be done with the right mindset.
"You just have to put your heart into it; it's all about heart and discipline, and making time," Case said. "I wholeheartedly believe that if you put your mind to something, you can do it. And if you don't put your mind to it or don't have that mindset, then you just won't do it."