NAPLES, Italy (NNS) -- The Naples Navy College Office hosted a Graduation Recognition Ceremony, June 13, to honor 185 graduates during the academic year from the three colleges and universities on Naval Support Activity Naples as well as external institutions.
"May 14th marked the 40th anniversary of Navy Voluntary Education," said Ernest D'Antonio, director of the U.S. Navy's Voluntary Education Program and keynote speaker for the Naples ceremony. "For the past 40 years Navy Voluntary Education has helped hundreds of thousands of Sailors just like you achieve their education dreams."
D'Antonio said Tuition Assistance (TA) is fully funded this year and as well as for fiscal year 2015.
"We have money available so continue your education; get the courses in and we'll approve the TAs," said D'Antonio.
"I don't think enough service members are utilizing their opportunities to go to school," said Information Systems Technician 2nd Class Christopher Struss from Lexington, Kentucky, assigned to Naval Computer and Telecommunications Station Naples. "I've heard a lot of people say 'Oh, I couldn't take classes; I was on a ship.' I completed 3/4 of my degree on a ship. There's time if you make time."
To get his degree quicker, Struss used both TA and the G.I. Bill to complete his Bachelor of Science in information and technology management from American Military University.
The processional event held in the Capodichino base theater recognized the 70 graduates able to attend the ceremony. Each had their name announced before walking across the stage and receiving their degree, which ranged from associate to a doctorate.
"Each of you are a success and you have distinguished yourself by completing your degree," said D'Antonio.
The Navy College Program in Naples currently has more than 600 students enrolled in 61 different higher-level educational institutions and serving in more than 80 commands.
"Just like you, earning my degrees gave me experiences which made me a better man, a better person for my family, a better warrior and a better American," said D'Antonio. "My degrees helped me accelerate my life."
"They have sacrificed many of their nights and weekends away from families and friends; they have managed to achieve a successful balance between work, school, family and friends," said Naval Support Activity Naples Command Master Chief Ashley Drake. "They have proved that hard work truly does pay off. They have remained dedicated to the pursuit of their educational goals for years to get to this point. Their determination is truly inspirational."
For more news from Naval Support Activity Naples, visit www.navy.mil/local/nsanaples/.