By Nathan Pfau, Army Flier Staff WriterJuly 26, 2012
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (July 26, 2012) -- Fort Rucker is known as the home of U.S. Army Aviation, but Soldiers on the installation can learn more than how to fly aircraft during their time here.
Families and friends came together at the post theater to celebrate and recognize 13 of the more than 60 students that graduated with a degree with the help of the Fort Rucker Education Center during a ceremony July 20.
"It gives us [at the education center] great pleasure to recognize [the graduates] as well as their Family members because they have reached an important milestone," said Jeff Pouncy, education services officer for the education center. "We in this country put great emphasis on education and we can never have too much of it."
The students who received certificates of graduation earned degrees from different colleges ranging from universities like Troy University to American Military University, and with degrees from associate degrees to master's degrees.
Sgt. 1st Class Claudia Jackson, who graduated with a Master of Business Administration from Trident University International, said she was extremely excited to receive her degree and recognition in front of her Family, some of who traveled from Dallas, Texas, to attend the ceremony.
"I'm the first in my Family to graduate college, so I'm really happy," she said. "My mother and father didn't even graduate high school, so to be the first in my Family to achieve this is really nice."
Before the certificates were handed out, Grey Edwards, chief of the Army Continuing Education System Hub Fort Benning, Ga., spoke on the benefits of Army education centers across the globe.
"The beauty of continuing education is that you have the opportunity to learn from each other," he said. "We go wherever Soldiers go … and that's the reason we're here. If we didn't have Soldiers and the important Family members, then we don't have anything to be involved in."
Edwards also advised the graduates to build and maintain the relationships they have made throughout their time in classes and throughout life.
"You never know when you're going to establish a good relationship," he said. "Don't ever burn bridges. You just never know where those partnerships and relationships are going to go."
The ceremony was also a time to give recognition to those at the education center who helped the students achieve their goals and earn their degrees, according to Henry Eagle, education services specialist for the education center.
"Our professionals in the education center are there for all the Soldiers and Family members here at Fort Rucker," he said. "Our job is to help Soldiers and Families go as far as they can in their civilian education so that they can be successful both in the Army and beyond."
As the official portion of the ceremony came to a close, Pouncy offered a final piece of advice to the graduates that hold leadership positions on the installation.
"When young Soldiers come to you requesting and asking for assistance, please do all you can to see that he or she can get all they can get," he said. "In this country, education is one of the great discriminators. [The one] who can get the most education is normally going to be the one to move forward and progress."
After the ceremony, the graduates and Family members gathered in the lobby of the post theater for food and cake, and to congratulate each other on their achievements.
"Let this be a time for you to rejoice, enjoy and [recognize] that you've made a great step in your life," said Edwards. "Find something you like to do and go for it, and let education be the key to get you there."