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40 receive degrees at graduation ceremony

Graduates make their way down to the stage as they prepare to receive their degrees during the Fort Rucker Army Education Center graduation ceremony at the post theater May 13. (Photo by Nathan Pfau)

Graduates make their way down to the stage as they prepare to receive their degrees during the Fort Rucker Army Education Center graduation ceremony at the post theater May 13. (Photo by Nathan Pfau)

Published: May 20, 2016

FORT RUCKER, Ala. (May 20, 2016) -- Education is one of the most important self-improvement steps a person can take, and Fort Rucker’s own celebrated taking that step as they walked across the stage to receive their degrees.

More than 40 students earned their degrees, ranging from associates to doctorates, during the Fort Rucker Army Education Center graduation ceremony at the post theater May 13.

Col. Shannon T. Miller, Fort Rucker garrison commander, attended the graduation ceremony and offered her congratulations to the graduates.

“This is a day that marks a significant milestone in each of your lives and, for many, today also marks a monumental accomplishment in your careers,” she said during the ceremony. “Today is significant … because we have Soldiers, military spouses, Department of the Army civilians and Army veterans who will walk across the stage – congratulations on a job well done.”

Those who earned their associate’s degrees were: Miranda Roberts, James McMillion, Jamie Holsey, Lance Singleton, William Johnson, Felix Arroyo, Latisha Latham-Walk, Shanee Bowman, Kimberly Davis, Scott Scheuer, Junyang Li, Lee Buller, Karizmah Yelverton, Brandon Monter, Brandon Cook and Thomas Capouch.

Those who earned their bachelor’s degrees were: Jason Garcia, Reginald Peterson, Shawn Paris, Isabell Saldana, Myra Aponte, Trina Smith, Jennifer Walters, Clarence McCrae, Jennifer Paris, Michael Anderson, Bonnie Murray, Kathryn Neiman, Candice Alliston, Michael Taylor, Santiago Ramirez and Terrance Newsome.

Those who earned their master’s degrees were: Jennifer Rosa, Crystal Christian, Jeanelle Joseph, Andrea Martin, David Ware, Brett Chivers, Michael Nearn and Christine Permenter.

James Martin was also recognized for earning his doctorate degree.

“I know that many of you never thought that this day would come,” said Miller. “As both you and your families have sacrificed a great deal for you to get to this day … you continued to press on with analyzing and writing papers, and formulating your thesis – certainly not an easy task.

“You all chose to educate yourselves during these challenging times with multiple combat deployments, multiple training exercises or just balancing your demanding jobs and careers,” she said. “Whether you realize it or not, your education has not only increased your own abilities, but increased the effectiveness of your units and your careers.”

Garcia, garrison equal opportunity adviser and graduate, knows the demands of balancing school and career all too well.

“In reflecting on my own experiences, among PCSs, deployments, TDYs and 24-hour duties, this four-year degree took me nearly 16 years to complete,” he said. “As I reflected, I wondered how many Soldiers have had similar experiences like mine. How many Soldiers today will experience those same challenges, and if I could advise them, coach them or mentor them, what would I tell them?”

Garcia said education is like buying a car. Colleges offer degrees in different makes, models and sizes, so he advises all potential students to shop around.

“Explore at least three colleges and have your joint service transfers evaluated at each,” he said. “The goal is to tailor the educational pursuit to meet one’s present life situation.”

Although all of the graduates had to put in hard work and dedication to achieve their degrees, their journey doesn’t end here, said the garrison commander.

“With your newly acquired critical-thinking skills, you will now make better decisions and you will approach a problem differently,” she said. “This isn’t simply having a degree in your hand. This is about using the knowledge that you have learned, and applying your knowledge through your character and your demonstrative performance. With all of those combined, you will undoubtedly continue to be successful.”

This article was originally published at

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