Joint Base Lewis-McChord conducts 36th Annual College Graduation

By Pfc. Jennifer PosyJune 6, 2024

JBLM 36th Annual Graduation Ceremony at St. Martin’s University Campus
U.S. service members line up for the 36th annual graduation ceremony for service members of Joint Base Lewis-McChord at St. Martin’s University, Lacey, Washington, May 31, 2024. Graduates walked across stage with academic regalia representing their school, which could be either local or regional. (U.S. Army photo by Pfc. Elijah Magaña) (Photo Credit: Pfc. Elijah Magana) VIEW ORIGINAL

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, WA — On May 31, 2024, several Army service members participated in the 36th Annual Joint Base Lewis-McChord Graduation Ceremony at Saint Martin’s University to receive their degrees.

Approximately 150 graduates participating were recognized for academic achievements at the certificate, associate, bachelor, and master’s level, as well as one Doctorate.

Educational achievement represents a key piece of self-development for all, especially Soldiers, Airmen, and NCO’s, as well as civilian graduates who were all recognized for taking advantage of their educational benefits.

In 2023, $9,782,721.48 of Tuition assistance was used by service members and eligible civilians with 13,439 enrollment requests resulting in 46,336 Semester credits earned by JBLM Affiliated Soldiers.

In addition to 50 graduates representing 21 off-base schools, the students represent their six quality on-base institutions; Central Texas College, Pierce College, Central Washington University, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University-Worldwide Campus, Saint Martin's University, University of Maryland Global Campus, and University of Massachusetts Global.

U.S. Army Cpl. Shemara Oliver with 14th Brigade Engineer Battalion, said it was challenging to balance both military and educational careers but very rewarding to see her hard work pay off and finally earn her Associate of Arts in General Program of Study Degree with Hinds Community College.

“Keep pushing, it might seem difficult but just keep going,” said Shemara Oliver, several minutes before walking across the stage.

For the professional and personal development of every Soldier and military member, the Tuition Assistance program provides all the financial assistance for voluntary off-duty civilian education programs, online courses, or through non-traditional means.

Soldiers who use their education benefits through college can assist soldiers with receiving promotion points up to 135 to the rank of sergeant and up to 160 points to the rank of staff sergeant.

The use of TA directly contributes to retaining quality Soldiers, enhancing their career progression, and improving Army readiness - an integral component of the Army’s Leader Development Program.

Maj. Gen. Mathew W. McFarlane, the Deputy Commanding Gen. of First Corps holds both a Bachelor’s and a Master’s Degree as well as several other achievements from multiple universities.

“Never lose sight of the profound power you can make, whether on the front lines, in the communities around the world and with your learning and leadership, your service has the potential to change lives, inspire and change the course of history,” said McFarlane, during the graduation ceremony.

“Completing a degree while serving in the military, meeting the needs of duty and family, is no small feat,” said Dr. Aaron Coby, a Saint Martin’s University professor. “You have our respect and admiration for your efforts and achievement.”

“Enjoy this day, you have earned it, and as Saint Martin’s graduates we ask that you remember: Once a Saint, always a Saint,” said Coby.

Fort Lewis service members who are interested in learning about any resources, call the Stone Education Center at (253) 967-7174 or visit the building at 6242 Colorado Ave, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, WA 98433.

For more information, visit Army Continuing Education Services