My Journey as a Military Student
By Eddie Witt, 2012 Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice, 2015 Master of Science in Security Management
My journey as a military student started back in 2001, when I took my first course toward my Associate in Arts Degree. At the time, I was a young Petty Officer Third Class stationed aboard the USS Carl Vinson deployed somewhere in the Western Pacific Ocean. While I had always maintained high marks in high school, I found that the English Composition and Rhetoric course to be very challenging. Between working at night fixing aircraft components, and constant shipboard readiness drills, I barely had time to study, let alone stay awake for the class. Somehow, I managed, and I passed the class with an A. At that point, I decided that being on the ship and trying to take college courses was too difficult so the idea of getting my degree was placed on the back burner for several years.
In mid-2008, I changed careers and went from working on the ship as an Aviation Electronics Technician, to working as a military police officer. This change would send me to Okinawa, Japan, where I enrolled in online courses through Coastline Community College and proudly graduated with my Associate in Arts Degree in May of 2010. The coursework was not terribly difficult, and I had a lot of time to work on my courses. At that time, my Chain of Command supported sailors getting their education, so while I was on duty, if I was not working on something or not on watch, I would be working on my courses. One of my favorite posts for duty was a small communications facility detached from the main base. If I needed extra time to get ready for a test or complete a project, I would happily volunteer to spend at least half and if not more of my shift out there, isolated from the rest of the world.
After graduating in 2010 from Coastline Community College, I was placed in the command’s training division where I would train not only fellow law enforcement sailors, but I would also train our auxiliary forces, as well as our Japanese counterparts on all the aspects of our job. In the spring of 2011, I found out that I was to be transferred to Bellevue, Nebraska, and this was where my journey with Bellevue University would begin.
Shortly after finding out I was being transferred, I enrolled in Bellevue’s Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice Degree program and got started immediately. The coursework was part of the University’s accelerated program, so I was taking back-to-back courses. This would prove a little challenging while in the middle of transferring duty stations as I had a lot of things I had to juggle at once. I used the down time I had to work on my courses to keep myself on track. In the process, I also made the Dean’s list. After arriving in Nebraska, I continued to work on my courses in the evenings when I got home from working a shift on the base. I completed all the core courses and then started the American Vision and Values course requirement. This proved to be the most difficult of all my courses, but I pressed on, finished them, and graduated in the summer of 2012 with my Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice.
In the fall of 2013, I enrolled in Bellevue University’s Master of Science Degree in Security Management Program. Like my previous degree, I would work my shift and come home and do my homework. Like my last program, this program was also accelerated. About midway through the program, I wanted to take a break as I was getting burned out from having little to no free time. My wife told me that I would regret taking a break and probably would not finish my degree. With her advice and support, I pressed on.
In late 2014, I received orders to transfer to Spain and would arrive there early 2015. At the time I was transferring, I had managed to complete all my requirements for my degree except for my final project. This would be finished while sitting on the couch of my in-laws’ house while visiting for Christmas and before moving on to my new duty station. With my degree conferred and everything finished, I focused on learning my new job and taking care of the new sailors under my command. A graduation ceremony was held in June of 2015 and while it may not have been my class from Bellevue, it was my fellow military brothers and sisters, as well as a couple spouses who all walked together at the graduation ceremony on base.
In the fall of 2016, I enrolled again at Bellevue University for another Master of Science Degree. This time, I decided to take courses in Cyber Security and I am currently working towardmy Master of Science Degree in Cyber Security.