Service members receive academic awards

By Julie Smith/JBLM PAO on November 20, 2012

As part of American Education Week celebrated last week, Nov. 12 to 16, Joint Base Lewis-McChord Education Services held a ceremony at Hawk Army Education Center on Lewis North to mark its fourth annual presentation of Military Academic Achievement Awards.

Seven individuals from six educational institutions received certificates for their competence in both military service and education, said Patrice Hamilton, Army community education system college coordinator.

"We see the completion of the degree at graduation, but this is American Education Week, so it provides an opportunity to look at (service members) doing exceptionally well while pursuing a degree," Hamilton said.

Each educational institution highlighted one service member, with the exception of Pierce College, which recognized two individuals.

Criteria for the awards were determined by each participating educational institution, Hamilton said.

Sergeant Keron Croft, Public Health Command District-JBLM, is pursuing an associate degree at Pierce College and was one of the award recipients. He is attending his last two requisite classes for the degree, and hopes to transfer to Saint Martin's University in Lacey to obtain a bachelor's degree in political science.

Croft is very thankful for the guidance of school officials he consults every time he makes a decision about which courses to take. He said their advice has been unfailingly helpful and accurate.

"I was a long way from an associate degree when I got (to Pierce College)," Croft said. In fact, according to Kelly Benson, Pierce College assistant dean of students, Croft was facing immense personal hardship before entering the military. By taking advantage of the educational opportunities in the military, he is directing it toward a successful future.

"He has focus for where he wants to go," Benson said.

Staff Sergeant Sylvester Clark, B. Company, Warrior Transition Battalion, has been attending Brandman University for the past year pursuing a bachelor's degree in organizational leadership while also serving in his 28th year of military service. Jeni Martinez, who works in the admissions office of Brandman University, nominated him for the award.

"He received this award for his dedication and persistence in education, and because he's one of the most kind hearted Soldiers you'll ever meet," Martinez said. "He brings other Soldiers along with him into the education system. He's a leader in that respect. It's not just about him and his success."