FORT HOOD, Texas - Effective time management and establishing a system of priorities are two of several things someone can unintentionally learn while pursuing a higher education.

When a Soldier chooses to seek a higher education these struggles are a constant battle.

Riceville, Ga. Native, Sgt. 1st Class Elaine Warthen, the noncommissioned officer in charge of supply for the 589th Brigade Support Battalion, 41st Fires Brigade, began this effort in 1994 and has about six months remaining until she graduates as a doctor of public policy and administration.

Warthen had started taking a few classes before entering the military but she mentioned that it had become difficult for her to pay for more classes.

"My sister had went straight into the military after high school and after her basic and individual training she told me of all the great benefits and the GI Bill," she said. "So I thought that maybe I should do that too."

She enlisted into the Army in 1992 as a material storage and handling specialist.

In 1994, while at her first duty station in Germany, she resumed taking college courses in general studies.

A couple of years later at Fort Hood she chose a major in criminal justice.

"I decided to pursue criminal justice because I wanted to become an MP (military police) and was thinking of changing my (job)," she said.

Warthen later moved on to Fort Bragg where she completed a bachelor of science in criminal justice at Campbell University.

"After I had completed my bachelors' degree I had thought to myself, 'Wow, I don't know if I like [criminal justice]'," Warthen said.

During a hardship tour in Korea she decided to work on a master's degree in public administration at Troy State University in Yongsan.

Upon returning to the United States she completed her degree and immediately began working on her doctorate.

"It's taken me five years to get from my master's to where I'm at now," she stated. "Three deployments through that time frame made it tough and slowed me down."

Warthen has been in the Army for 19 years and has been studying for approximately 18 years.

She said that juggling the military and school can be very difficult at times and very painful.

"What motivates me to keep going is when I have a bad day," Warthen said. "Studying gives me something to look forward to."

When asked what advice she would give Soldiers who want to take the path she has taken she said, "Think about where you would like to see yourself in five to ten years from where you are at right now and draw out a plan and stick to it regardless of what goes on around you."

"Times may get tough and you may fall down but you have to keep going," she added.

Currently Warthen is writing a dissertation for study amongst doctorate holding board members so that she can finally graduate and be given the title of doctor. She is on track to be finished around October and soon after plans to retire from the Army.