UMUC Asia Okinawa Commencement Ceremony 2015

UMUC Asia Okinawa Commencement Ceremony 2015

by Christine Arnett

University of Maryland University College (UMUC) Asia is pleased to announce its 2015 Commencement for the Okinawa ceremony. The ceremony will be held on Saturday, April 18, at Yomitan Cultural Center, and will begin at 1500. UMUC Asia graduates are active-duty service members from the Air Force, Army, Navy, and Marine Corps, as well as family members and DoD civilians stationed in the Pacific. At the Okinawa ceremony, graduates stationed from all over the island will come together to commemorate such an important milestone in their lives on this special day.

This year’s guest speaker will be Major General Lloyd “Milo” Miles (U.S. Army Ret.).

Maj. Gen. Lloyd “Milo” Miles (U.S. Army, Ret.) is Senior Vice President for Military and Veterans Operations at UMUC.  In this role, he oversees the administration and management of the University’s global military operations and partnerships in over 20 countries in Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. Prior to joining UMUC in January 2015, Gen. Miles served more than 32 years of active duty in a decorated military career which included multiple, distinguished leadership positions in education, training, combat readiness, and leader development of U.S. troops. 

UMUC Asia is also proud to share a few of our graduate success stories. It is truly a remarkable accomplishment on what these students have endured to continue fighting for the greatest gift we can ever bestow ourselves. Education was always their priority despite life’s challenges.

Mrs. Rebecca Atwood, who is from Richland, Washington, and is currently at Camp Foster with her family, proudly shares her experience on completing a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education:

“Well, I began this great adventure of going back to school just after the first birthday of my second daughter. Soon after, my family received orders overseas to Okinawa. I made a decision to continue taking classes, with Central Texas College, even while moving to the other side of the world...and pregnant with our 3rd little girl! Upon arriving in Okinawa, I found UMUC and decided to switch my degree to Elementary Education. I delivered my baby the last week of class during my first session with UMUC. I can remember coming to the education center on Kadena and taking the Writing 101 final, fresh off a C-section, while my husband sat outside with our newborn baby. (Seems a little ridiculous now....I probably should have stayed home!!!) Moving on, about a year into our time here in Okinawa, my mom mailed me a package that she had received at my childhood home and had been addressed to me. To my surprise, it was a package that I had put together myself ten years earlier for a high school economics class. I read the letter, in which I had written about my goal of being a teacher someday. I laughed because there I was ten years out of high school and finally pursuing my dream after a four-year stint in the Marine Corps and several years of being a stay-at-home mom. dream was coming true! In short, I've been through many trials, tribulations, and TDY's for my Active Duty Marine husband. However, I've never given up on this degree. It means the world to me, and I couldn't be any happier to graduate!”

Stationed in Camp Hansen and originally from Fairmont, North Carolina, SSgt. Cedric McCormick, shares his inspiring story of earning his bachelor’s in communication studies, while balancing his mission of serving his country:

“I started my degree back in 2006 and I had to attend classes, while I was deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. The reason that I pushed myself so hard was because I promised my grandmother before she passed away that I would get my college degree. I am active duty so the lifestyle of the Marine Corps adds to what I have to do with my family life is very challenging. I am glad that I will finally be walking across that stage with my BA degree. I'm doing this for my family and my grandmother and son that are in heaven right now looking over me. Thank you University of Maryland University College, you helped me make this happen. I'm forever grateful for that.”

Mrs. Sommer Jones, who has earned a Bachelor of Science in Social Science, expresses her defining moments in defeating personal obstacles to reaching her educational goals:

“I am prior Air Force, wife of an airman, and mother of three. I joined the military so I could finish my degree, however, I preferred fun over books. When I separated from the military, I thought that it'd be a prefect time to go to school. BUT I was pregnant, with a toddler so I allowed fear to overwhelm me. When I thought I was ready, I found that I was pregnant with my third child. Again, fear kept me from pursuing my degree. After my brother passed, I decided to let go of a lot of fears because I realized they were holding me back from seeing the world, being a better mother and wife, and pursuing my education. This sounds cheesy, but it's true. During my time at UMUC, I continued to face personal obstacles that would have potentially destroyed my confidence, but I was resilient and moved through it. The flexibility of UMUC where I could take off a session with no penalties allowed me to heal after the death of my father. I know he and my brother would believe in me; they always believed in me. What I learned what matters the most is me believing in myself. I am so proud of myself and I thank UMUC for being a world university. I've attended while in Germany from 2012-2013 and in Okinawa from 2013-2015. Good luck to all the graduates and everyone else hoping to further their education.”

Congratulations to Rebecca, SSgt. McCormick and Sommer, and to the rest of the Class of 2015!

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