NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (NNS) -- In the Navy, yard time is designed to put the focus on the ship. Many Sailors take this as a time to work on qualifications while operational commitments are low and maintenance is the primary mission. For Sailors aboard USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78), the opportunity to take advantage of education was presented.
“Being in the shipyard is a great time to take advantage of education,” said Lt. j.g. Kristine Gavino, from San Diego, Ford’s educational services officer. “Sailors are in an environment where they can easily access their online schools from the Internet with no, or very little, connectivity issues.”
There are two prominent programs that Sailors can take advantage of to continue their academic pursuits. These programs are the Tuition Assistance (TA) program and the Navy College Program for Afloat College Education (NCPACE).
“I am currently enrolled at Saint Leo University and I am majoring in business administration: project management,” said Aviation Support Equipment Technician 2nd Class Jonathan Lopez, from Houston. “I am fifth generation Navy and my family members before me all served, and made the transition from enlisted to officer. All of them are very successful in life today due to their ambition to seek a higher education.”
In fiscal year 2018, Ford Sailors took 864 college classes utilizing over $618,500 of TA and 15 college classes utilizing over $3,700 of NCPACE funding.
The Navy TA program and NCPACE pay up to 100% of tuition and required fees for taking college courses while on active duty, not to exceed $250 per semester hour, $166.67 per quarter hour, $16.67 per clock hour and $4,500 per fiscal year provided the student completes the course with a passing grade.
Despite the time spent between work, school and their families, Sailors are learning time management skills to balance their day.
“My obstacles beginning college were that it was hard to manage time, work, college and home life at the same time,” said Lopez. “In some instances, I would stay up until midnight every night just catching up on school. I don’t regret it — that’s the sacrifice you have to make. After figuring out time management, it was all pretty simple afterwards.”
For many people around the world, education does not come for free, but by being a military service member it literally can be.
“I have been meaning to get my degree for quite some time, and with the help of the Navy, I can finish my degree for free,” said Aviation Boatswain’s Mate 2nd Class Jessica Lanford, from Greenville, South Carolina. “I am going to school to become an officer and hope to be commissioned at my 10-year mark as an Environmental Health Officer. Junior Sailors should obtain their degree to not only further their education, but to help their future.”
No matter where life takes any Sailor, whether it means staying in the Navy or getting out to pursue another career path, education is something they can take with them wherever they go.
“We all know that education is a universal currency,” said Gavino. “Wherever life takes us after the Navy, education will always be something that is respected in all corners of the world.”
Gerald R. Ford is a first-in-class aircraft carrier and the first new aircraft carrier designed in more than 40 years. Ford is currently undergoing its post-shakedown availability at Huntington Ingalls Industries-Newport News Shipbuilding.
For more news from USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78), visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn78/.