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Planning for a career beyond the military

WGU Washington provides an opportunity

Army veteran Eddy Cruz is a recent graduate of WGU Washington. Photo credit: WGU

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Benjamin Franklin observed that an education is the investment in oneself that pays the best interest.

This is a statement Army veteran Eddy Cruz embraced when he transitioned from the military to the civilian work world.

"Look for what you can learn and how you can add to yourself," he wrote in an email.

Today, Cruz is the director of cybersecurity at Kalles Group, a consulting and solutions firm specializing in cybersecurity and information technology services.

"Army values and military discipline comprise a solid foundation for success in any endeavor, civilian work, or volunteer and hobby work," he continued.

Describing himself as intense when working a particularly challenging problem, Cruz added that he commits all of his skills and previous experiences in finding a solution.

"This results in some very intense periods of time where I am completely engulfed in the issue at hand," he explained, "and I think this process was enhanced by my military experiences where ... the consequences could be dire."

In building his current career, Cruz invested the time, money and effort to earn his bachelor's degree in Network Design and IT from WGU (Washington Governors University) Washington.

"I was working full time and supporting my family, and the online delivery method and the competency-based credit model that WGU uses makes it an excellent fit for working adults," he explained.

WGU Washington was established in 2011 as a partnership between Western Governors University and the state of Washington with the mission of helping Washingtonians obtain a college education.

The educational institution has been named one of the nation's "Top Military-Friendly Colleges and Universities" for 10 consecutive years by Military Advanced Education and Transition Magazine as it has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to helping service members apply their knowledge and life experiences.

"This is one small way the university can say ‘thank you' for their service, sacrifice and commitment to our country's future," wrote WGU's chancellor Tonya Drake, in an email.

She pointed out that all of WGU's degree programs are approved by the Department of Veterans Affairs for all education benefits offered under the GI Bill.

"Education benefit options are available for veterans and active-duty (service members), dependents, and those with service in the National Guard and Reserves," Drake explained.

"The nation's future and economic competitiveness is dependent, more than ever, on our ability to develop, grow and sustain a workforce proficient in science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM."

Drake cited The Institute for Veterans and Military Families' report which pointed out that over the past decade there has been an increase of 34 percent in jobs requiring some level of STEM expertise.

WGU offers career-aligned bachelor's and master's degrees -- in teaching, nursing, IT and business -- designed to allow working professionals the opportunity to fit an online education into their lives.

"The course work provides valuable technical knowledge and skills, backed up with obtaining industry certifications," continued Cruz.

"In addition, the broader scope of classes added the capabilities of research, report writing, and broader knowledge in subjects outside the IT industry."

As of October 2019, more than 10 percent of WGU's student body are in one way or another connected to the military.

"Just do it," concluded Cruz.

"Trust your ability to adapt and overcome.  There will be countless things that you can't plan for, don't fully understand, or just don't know about.  The only way to learn is to go through the transition ... and look for opportunities to invest in your career."

Ben Franklin would agree.

For more information about WGU Washington, visit:

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