Graduating with Class

148th Fighter Wing Community College of the Air Force graduates stand during the 2011 award and retirement ceremony at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center Dec. 4, 2011.  From 2010 to 2011, CCAF graduates have increased 59%. That number is expected to increase for the 148th again in the 2012 graduating classes.  (National Guard photo by Senior Airman Sarah Hayes.)

148th Fighter Wing Community College of the Air Force graduates stand during the 2011 award and retirement ceremony at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center Dec. 4, 2011. From 2010 to 2011, CCAF graduates have increased 59%. That number is expected to increase for the 148th again in the 2012 graduating classes. (National Guard photo by Senior Airman Sarah Hayes.)

DULUTH, Minn. -- When asked why a service member enlists, one of the things that many will say are the military education benefits. At no other time in history has such an opportunity for higher education existed for military personnel then is does now. Today, more service members, young and old, are pursuing their college degrees than in the past.

Over the last few years, enrollment in colleges and universities, not only in the State of Minnesota but across the country, have nearly doubled their enrollment of service members with the changes in military benefits along with the increase in expectations employers are looking for in employees.

Many jobs will have minimum education requirements just to be considered, and without those requirements, odds are your resume won't get a second glance. In addition, you will most likely need to exceed the experience, training, and education credentials of others competing for the job. Education can often be the tie-breaker that will get you hired.

The increasing importance of education is also apparent in the military as well. Over the past few years, changes have been made so that if an Airman wants to be promoted to Senior Master Sergeant in the Air Force, they must have a Community College of the Air Force degree.

"The CCAF degree is becoming more of a target item for the Air Force," said Master Sgt. Katrina Patterson, 148th Fighter Wing Force Development. "This is already happening on active duty and will come to the National Guard and other commands in the future. When we are unsure but it will happen someday sooner rather than later."

To make it easier on members of the 148th to achieve their CCAF degree, the unit has partnered with Lake Superior College in Duluth, Minn. to offer the CCAF required courses both online and at the base. The classes are held in the evenings and on weekends to accommodate both full-time and traditional drilling members, and are taught by Lake Superior College educators.

"Leadership at the 148th has been very helpful and supportive of programs we would like to provide so that members can obtain their degrees," said Patterson. "The classes we coordinated with Lake Superior College helped tremendously to those members that used the program. It helped at least 8-10 members complete that one or two remaining general education credits they needed to get their degree. "

"We couldn't be more thrilled to offer this service to our local service members," said Tess Dandrea, Lake Superior College Customized Training Coordinator. "To be able to give back to the members of our community who give up so much for us is just a perfect way for us to say thanks."

From 2010 to 2011, CCAF graduates have increased 59%. That number is expected to increase for the 148th again in the 2012 graduating classes.