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Year of Continuing Education
Education and Training Section staff (L-R) Michael Brame, Pamela Riorito, Cara Blair, Deborah McCord and Greg Goodwin have been an active part of the Air Force Materiel Command educational initiatives, the Year of the Community College of the Air Force in 2011 and the Year of Continuing Education in 2012, and are ready to embrace and help promote the third initiative, “Year of the Graduate” in 2013. (photo by Niki Jahns)
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Education and Training professionals epitomize values of ongoing learning

Posted 1/11/2013   Updated 1/11/2013 Email story   Print story


1/11/2013 - WRIGHT-PATTERSON AFB, Ohio -- Skywrighter staff reporter Amy Rollins talked recently with members of the Education and Training Section staff in Bldg. 50, Area B, at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base about their own graduations from various institutions in 2012, other achievements and educational philosophies.

The staff has been an active part of the Air Force Materiel Command educational initiatives, the Year of the Community College of the Air Force in 2011 and the Year of Continuing Education in 2012, and is ready to embrace and help promote the third initiative, "Year of the Graduate" in 2013.

The E&T staff members are: Cara Blair, human resources management student trainee; Michael Brame, SCEP graduate training instructor; Pamela Fiorito, education services specialist; Greg Goodwin, training technician; and Deborah McCord, training instructor and SCEP graduate. Adding further comments is Heather Williams, element chief, Workforce Development.

Q: Why did you all agree to be interviewed? What is it you want to tell our readers?

A: Ms. Fiorito: The Education and Training staff not only talks the talk, but we walk the walk. We don't just talk about education -- we take it seriously. This group (of recent graduates) is a cross-section of everybody in the building.

Q: What are the degrees you've earned this year?

A: Mr. Brame: The degree I completed in December was my master's in leadership through Central Michigan University.

Mrs. Blair: I completed associate and dual bachelor's degrees in management and human resources management at Park University and I am continuing with a master's degree in leadership at Central Michigan University. It's taken me nine years. (Mrs. McCord pointed out that Mrs. Blair has twins and like most people, family concerns that can make attending college challenging.)

Mrs. McCord: I completed a master's degree in May in administration with a concentration in acquisitions through Central Michigan University.

Mr. Goodwin: I achieved a bachelor's degree in management and human resources from Park University.

Ms. Fiorito completed her master's degree in business and organizational management counseling in March at Wright State University.

Q: Ms. Blair, why did you decide to complete your degree?

A: It was a job requirement for those of us who are SCEPs. It's a good thing. To advance in a career nowadays, it's something that has emphasis on it. It's something that probably most of us would have done anyway, but with our requirement, it gives more of an incentive. It gives us somewhere to go at the end.

A: Mrs. McCord: I would agree with that statement, but I've also realized that all of the information I've received from a master's degree -- different theories, different thought processes -- made me really appreciate education. Staying in touch with technology and getting different perspectives from people has really been a great experience.

A: Ms. Fiorito: Expanding upon those reasons, you also get to take the coursework and theories that you're taught and are able to come back to your workplace to implement them. Those connections between theories and the actual classroom environment to an actual workplace environment, I think that's beneficial.

Q: Do you feel like what you learned in the classroom is helping you perform your mission better?

A: Mr. Goodwin: I am a little bit different. I was active duty in the U.S. Army for 25 years and retired in 1997. When I came to civil service, there was a block I needed to complete to enable myself to advance further. I've used what I've learned at school to apply it to the everyday work flow.

Q: Can you give an example of something you learned in the classroom that you've used when you were training or working with somebody?

A: Mr. Goodwin: Everyday communication skills; personal communication is a big one. Every day we have to communicate with all levels of management. Those classes definitely were beneficial.

Q: Are there any challenges that you have overcome or anything you didn't know before you completed your degree that you are now better prepared to address?

A: Ms. Fiorito: My degree is in counseling with a focus on business and organizational management, so it had a foundation of counseling theories. More than one time I've counseled someone who was really upset with the direction that their Air Force career was going and looking at an education as a way for them to go a different direction in their life. Had I not had those counseling classes, I would not have been prepared to deal with them on a personal level and assist them.

Q: Mr. Brame, what would you tell somebody who has not completed or maybe even started a degree? What kind of advice or encouragement would you give them?

A: I'd say, "Things never get better with time ... Think of it as a Band-Aid -- just rip it right off and get it over with." They'll be happy when it's done. For me, it was like I picked it up, I put it down because I went through a couple of things as I was going for my degree. ... I had to really get motivated to pick it back up again. Just go ahead and do it. That feeling of relief when you're done, that sense of accomplishment that you have, it's great!

Q: What do you tell somebody who is discouraged or who doesn't see the value of education?

A: Ms. Blair: From a "Year of Continuing Education" perspective, you don't have to go for a degree in order to continue to learn or to continue in your personal education. Within Bldg. 50 we have training instructors; we have classes right here. They are free courses that run from two hours to two or three days. If you use your library and free resources for free coursework -- the Universal Classroom that's over there -- you can start small and get that love of learning and improving. Once you get that, then I think it's easy to make that transition. I never want to stop going to school. I never want to stop learning.

A: Mrs. McCord: I was looking forward to finishing the degree, but once I finished, I realized, "Wow, what's next? I've learned these theories. What other theories could go along with these?"

Q: What are some of your next steps?

A: Ms. Fiorito: Mrs. McCord has begun her application for the Civilian Acculturation Leadership Training. I've recently started squadron officers' school. Ms. Williams just finished Air Command Staff College. The Year of Continuing Education emphasis isn't just about degree completion; it's about taking advantage of resources and continuing to learn - lifelong learning. It doesn't have to be in a school or a formal environment; it could be online classes, all sorts of things.

Q: Ms. Williams, what would you like the base community to know about your staff and the educational opportunities you all offer?

A: Our business is education and training. We believe it is important when promoting a product to be credible; this is something that each of the supervisors in the section emphasize to their employees daily.

As you can see from the responses of the other individuals, they are listening and taking advantage of the access to lifelong learning. Unlike the others, I already had my master's degree when I came into my current position, but wanted to model the importance of continuous learning so I enrolled in ACSC online; with the support of a seminar I completed the program in 15 months.

For the base community at large, what you need to know is that we have information or access to information to help you on your lifelong learning journey. If you have questions, more than likely we have the answer or the means to find the answer.

For more information, contact the 88th Force Support Squadron, Education and Training Section at (937) 904-4801.

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