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JBLM graduates over 100 students

Army spouse Celeste Edwards and husband Spc. Sheldon Edwards, 13th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 593rd Expeditionary Sustainment Command at JBLM, share a special moment. Photo Credit: Talysa Lloyd McCall

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JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD - Over 100 service members, veterans and spouses received college degrees or certificates at Joint Base Lewis-McChord's 34th Annual College Graduation Ceremony June 3 at Clover Park Technical College in Lakewood.

"Our armed forces are the greatest in the world, because we have people who are dedicated to the success of the mission," said Col. Christopher Hall, Joint Base Lewis-McChord's deputy commander. "Not only are they dedicated, but they are the best trained and well educated which enables (the) Department of Defense to lead, fight and win anywhere in the world."

This is the first in-person JBLM college graduation since 2019 due to COVID-19, but the sentiment of the event was the same as it has always been - to recognize the commitment service members make to education despite the difficulties of military service.

"The camaraderie that these service members get from these types of graduations is unmatched," said Heather Weekley, assistant campus director for Embry Riddle College for JBLM. "They serve together and celebrate together. They are among like-minded individuals and that helps push them even more."

Embry Riddle College is just one of the colleges that service members, veterans and family members have access to through education partnerships with JBLM. There are seven on-base colleges that deliver face-to-face college classes at the education centers on JBLM:

  • University of Massachusetts
  • Central Texas College
  • Central Washington University
  • CityU of Seattle
  • Pierce College
  • Saint Martin's University
  • University of Maryland Global Campus

There are also a host of colleges that offer online classes as well.

Applause and cheers rang out as each graduate walked the stage to begin the next steps on their journey. Many had encouraging words for their fellow classmates.

"The journey is just beginning," said retired Army Staff Sgt. Jack Crisostomo, who received his bachelor's degree in Information Technology Cyber Security. "Family support was one of the most important things during this time, but also knowing your benefits."

Other graduates had encouraging stories to share with their fellow classmates. Staff Sergeant Kevin Dickens, a chemical specialist with the Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 62nd Medical Brigade at JBLM. Dickens knows firsthand the effort it takes to complete a degree while facing deployments and family difficulties.

"Just never quit," Dickens said, who received a bachelor's degree in Homeland Security. "I was sent away so many times on various responses due to COVID. That made it difficult to complete the work, but I never gave up."

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