Fort Belvoir Garrison Command Sgt. Maj. Jason Young and Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall Commander Col. Kimberly Peeples lead the graduation procession into Thurman Hall Nov. 14. Photo by Paul Lara

Congratulations college graduates

More than 40 students can now be called ‘graduates’ after a joint services graduation and recognition ceremony on Fort Belvoir, Virginia, Nov. 14.

Of the 42 students who graduated, 11 earned master’s degrees; 22 earned bachelor’s degrees and nine earned associate degrees.

One of the graduates, Sgt. 1st Class Anthony Bridgeforth, received an associate degree in general studies from Columbia Southern University.

“It was very challenging and rewarding,” he said, after the ceremony. “Education is so important, because you need education for promotion points in the Army and to be marketable and successful after you leave the service.

“If I can study and do it, absolutely anyone out there can. Education puts you years ahead.”

Bridgeforth is already working on his bachelor’s degree and expects to graduate in the spring. His mother, Mary M. Wilson, said with a smile after the ceremony, “I’m very proud of my baby boy.”

Sgt. Jewel King, another graduate, said, “Education is very important to open doors and opportunities.” Her new professional studies associate degree is from Trident University International.

“Getting an education is one of the best ways you can have ‘self-care,’” she said.

King, a noncommissioned officer for the 249th Engineer Battalion, said she’s also set to further her studies and get a bachelor’s degree in cyber studies.

Before the degrees were conferred, guest speakers celebrated the graduates’ accomplishments.

Fort Belvoir Garrison Command Sgt. Maj. Jason Young said, “The Army’s Continuing Education System has a long history of helping our military community get the support they need to invest in their education, not only to better their lives, but the lives of their Families and our nation.

“These graduates will be better thinkers, doers and leaders, as they take on challenges of work, Family and community, with many more tools in their toolbox.”

Young added that the ceremony was not only for the graduates, but for their Families; friends; spouses; children and others who strengthen and inspire them.

Young said he’s especially proud to see enlisted Soldiers getting their degrees and encouraged the graduates to inspire others in formations, to make learning a lifelong goal.

Col. Kimberly Peeples, the Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall commander, said she was honored to host the joint recognition ceremony and recognize the graduates’ accomplishments.

“Each and every one of you are to be admired and lauded for your determination and dedication to fulfill the working responsibilities, personal responsibilities and hard work of earning this college degree,” Peeples said. “This diligence and extraordinary accomplishments, we honor today, on this life-changing event.

Jonathan Woods, acting director of Voluntary Education in the Office of the Undersecretary for Personnel and Readiness, was the guest speaker. He logged 110 aerial combat support missions for the Navy and has had a variety of positions in the Defense Department.

Woods provided social compacts, or covenants, in his advice to the graduates and told them to treat relationships, service and resources like they matter.

He acknowledged audience members who wear or have ever worn the nation’s uniform and said, “To see a room full of warriors, on an installation full of warriors, in a nation of warriors is very powerful.

“Our warriors are our scholars and our scholars are our warriors. Warrior-scholars are a unique group, as 250,000 service members participate in voluntary education programs each year and about 50,000 graduate.”