USS HARRY S. TRUMAN, At Sea (NNS) -- Sailors and Marines aboard USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) began their third term of Navy College Program for Afloat College Education (NCPACE) classes Oct. 23 and the number of service member choosing to enroll has resulted in the largest afloat education program on the east coast.
During the third term of Navy NCPACE classes, 216 Sailors and Marines chose to advance their education by enrolling in such subjects as history, math, English composition, and Western Civilization.
"This third term of NCPACE courses has had the best participation all deployment," said Personnel Specialist Seaman Brandon Woller, Truman's liaison for NCPACE. "Since we left Norfolk May 21, over 500 Sailors and Marines have enrolled in 820 courses. That's quite a feat to reach and proves just how much people value education."
Sixteen classes are offered at various times throughout the week in order to maximize the number of crew members who can participate. In anticipation of crew member interest during deployment, Truman leadership began planning the renovation of the carrier's classrooms and study section in Truman's library in August 2009 to create an environment that was conducive to learning.
One of the reasons the NCPACE education program has been so successful is because of the value the chain of command places on Sailors and their education, according to NPACE instructor Gary Bretz, a 10-year employee of Central Texas College who teaches history. Truman leaders recognize how the development of crew members' critical thinking skills contributes to overall professional development and military readiness.
"Continuing education really is an all-hands evolution," said Bretz. "From the students to their bosses to their co-workers who make sacrifices to let someone participate, everybody is involved. Students have to take time off work to attend class, and they must be supported by their chiefs and officers."
Although they are working long, full days while deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation New Dawn, Truman crew members are thrilled at the opportunity to advance their personal and professional growth.
"I was impressed when I heard we had the top education program of all east coast ships," said Aviation Ordnanceman (AW) Tahnee Fields, who works in Ordnance Control and has taken three courses since deployment began. "It's pretty astonishing when you factor in our ship's mission and the work that needs to be done to support it."
Crew members view the NCPACE courses as important means of improving quality of life at sea, and they take considerable pride in accomplishing their goals.
"When I got to the ship, I was dreading that I wasn't going to be able to take classes," said Fields. "I was ecstatic when I found out I could take them and every single class has met all of my expectations. One of my reasons for joining the Navy was to get my college degree and this command has proven to me how much it values the crew by allowing me the opportunity to accomplish my goal."
For more news from USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75), visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn75/.