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May 3, 2014 at 9:35am

Brandman University graduates walk in combined JBLM commencement ceremony

A few of the 70 Brandman University graduates who walked in combined JBLM commencement ceremony at Clover Park Technical College, May 2. Photo credit: Margo Myers

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Margo Myers was on the scene at yesterday's Joint Base Lewis-McChord's Combined Graduation Recognition Ceremony inside the Sharon McGavick Conference Center at Clover Park Technical College. She has the scoop on several of the Brandman University graduates, of which 70 received diplomas. She files the following report. ...

Among the graduates is Anthony DiMascolo, who received his bachelor's in organizational leadership. The retired U.S. Air Force E-8 needed just three years to complete his degree, excelling in his studies with a 3.9 grade point average. "Grueling," explained DiMascolo as he described his efforts to complete ahead of schedule. "But now it's wonderful. I love Brandman. It was challenging, which I like, and there was a lot of research, which I like." He graduated summa cum laude.

DiMascolo's degree is quickly paying off. He's currently managing a cloud-based project, in conjunction with Microsoft, for his current employer, Lockheed Martin. "I would not have received my current position at Lockheed Martin without my degree." DiMascolo pursued his bachelor's after serving 27 years in the U.S. Air Force working in communications. He eventually plans on using his tuition reimbursement from Lockheed Martin to work on a master's at Brandman. "The rest of my GI bill will go towards the college education of my daughters," said DiMascolo.

Another graduate is retired U.S. Army Master Sergeant Jason Williams, who received his master's degree in organizational leadership. His diploma comes just a few months after receiving a major promotion at work. The former air traffic controller is now a supervisor at a State Farm office located just outside the gates of JBLM. "I am an anomaly because they (State Farm) took a chance on me ahead of their usual promotion schedule," said Williams. "My promotion came because of my extensive leadership experience in the Army, as well as having my master's degree."

Williams is one of a handful of civilian students who returned to JBLM to take classes at Brandman after his retirement from military service. "I loved my Brandman experience," said Williams. "The blended courses fit my schedule. You get to share ideas, share concepts and work as an amazing team. I worked with people deployed in Afghanistan and had superb instructors who were caring and knew their stuff."

Brandman's JBLM Campus Director Mary Ann Bardoni-Barbe is proud of the 2014 graduating class. "We prepare our students to go forward into the job market with degrees that are marketable," she said.  

Students from multiple campuses, including Pierce College, Central Texas College, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Saint Martin's University, Southern Illinois University, University of Maryland University College, as well as a number of off-base academic institutions participated in the ceremony.

Gary Condra, Deputy Director of the Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs, delivered the keynote address.

>>> Jason Williams at JBLM's Combined Graduation Recognition Ceremony

>>> Anthony DiMascolo and 10-year daughter Chon Lada

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