JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (NNS) -- A Sailor from Naval Air Station (NAS) Jacksonville is taking advantage of the many opportunities for higher education offered by the Navy.
Aviation Boatswain's Mate 1st Class Nnamdi Emenogu has only four classes left to complete before earning his bachelor's degree in Public Health from the American Military University.
Emenogu has been in the Navy for a little more than nine years and said his chain of command has always supported his educational goals and helped him to keep on course. Emenogu had not taken any classes before he joined the Navy and credits all of his success to the programs available to Sailors through the Navy College Program.
"I knew that the Navy provided great schooling opportunities without the hassle of student loans," said Emenogu. "I just had to get it done."
The Navy College Program's mission is to provide continual academic support to Sailors while they pursue a technical or college degree, regardless of their location or duty station.
"I started off taking Navy College Program for Afloat College Education (NCPACE) courses while at sea, and when I needed a greater variety of courses the Navy College Office helped me discover tuition assistance," said Emenogu.
Vicki O'Toole, director of the Navy College Office NAS Jacksonville, helped guide Emenogu down the appropriate path towards his ultimate goal of earning a degree.
"ABH1 [Emenogu] is a wonderful example of a Sailor who sets a goal and who pays attention to what is available through the Navy College Office to develop himself personally and professionally," said O'Toole.
While maintaining a 3.74 grade point average, Emenogu was awarded Naval Air Station Jacksonville Sailor of the Year honors and promoted to the rank of first class petty officer. It has taken him less time to earn a degree because he used his Sailor/Marine American Council on Education Registry Transcript, or SMART.
SMART documents the amount of American Council on Education (ACE) college credit recommended for military training and occupational experience that Sailors receive through their career. SMART is an academically accepted record that is validated by ACE with the primary purpose of helping service members obtain college credit for their military experience.
Emenogu said through SMART, he obtained 12 college credits toward completion of his degree. "Lots of time and money was saved," he said. "I didn't have to take four classes because it was already in my record, so I absolutely recommend taking advantage of the program."
"Petty Officer Emenogu's off duty education has directly contributed to the readiness of NAS Jacksonville's Air Operations Department," said Lt. Cmdr. Michael Chan, NAS Jacksonville operations officer. "It has made him a better Sailor, and more importantly a better leader. This sets the example for his peers and junior Sailors. He conveys the message that it's possible to earn a degree while still performing their duties at a high level. As a leader and mentor, completing his degree will only reinforce the importance and need for higher education."
Emenogu said he will later pursue a master's.
"I feel a great sense of accomplishment and I see myself as a role model for those Sailors who think the task is too daunting to tackle. I have no intention of stopping here. Once I earn my bachelor's, my next step will be enrolling into a master's program," said Emenogu. "I recommend that all Sailors take advantage of these great opportunities offered by the Navy to further their education."
He said hopes to motivate fellow Sailors to advance their careers through education.
"Professionally, earning a degree creates more opportunities for a diverse career path," stated Emenogu. "I would like to become a commissioned officer in the Navy and some day become a public health official in the civilian sector."
Dr. Mary Redd-Clary, director of the Navy College Program at the Center for Personal and Professional Development, said it is common for Sailors to join the Navy without any higher education but with the goal of working toward a degree while in the service.
"At any given time, approximately 20 percent of active duty Sailors are using a Navy College Program resource to help fund their education goals," she said.
To help Sailors maximize their education benefits, Navy College Program education professionals advise Sailors on programs such as tuition assistance and SMART.
"A Sailor's local Navy College Office - or the Virtual Education Center - is a great resource for helping plan out his or her education journey. This plan includes a review of the SMART and development of an Individual Education Plan tailored to them," she said.
"CPPD's voluntary education program is a conduit for equipping Sailors with strong analytical skills, the ability to make informed decisions, and avenues to pursue their life-long educational and credentialing goals. We're dedicated to helping each and every Sailor develop to his or her fullest potential."
Navy College supports the personal and professional growth of Sailors helping them earn degrees which help make them invaluable assets to the Navy. It's an important part of the 21st Century Sailor and Marine initiative which consolidates a set of objectives and policies, new and existing, to maximize Sailor and Marine personal readiness, build resiliency and hone the most combat-effective force in the history of the Department of the Navy.
For more information, visit www.navy.mil, www.facebook.com/usnavy, or www.twitter.com/usnavy.