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The Edwards Education Center
The Education Center helps Team Edwards accomplish education and career goals through a variety of programs and services. Counselors assist in finding the perfect academic program and provide anyone interested with all the need-to-know information. The center is open Monday through Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and available to everyone who has access to the base. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Laura Mowry)
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Edwards Education Center accelerates career progression

Posted 12/5/2011   Updated 12/6/2011 Email story   Print story


by Laura Mowry
Staff Writer

12/5/2011 - EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif.  -- Educational development is a pillar of today's Air Force. It seems to receive more emphasis every year, including Air Force Materiel Command designating this the year of the Community College of the Air Force. 

The Education Center -- part of the Airman's Campus on base -- is a great asset to the Edwards community that helps Airmen meet their education and career goals, base leaders say. The center offers a variety of educational services and programs specifically designed to accommodate the needs of today's Airmen.

The emphasis on education today is much different than 20 years ago for Chief Master Sgt. Donald Rupp, superintendent, 95th Force Support Squadron.

"It's a great change. Very few people went to college when I came in the service. The emphasis on education now results in a better, well-rounded Airman," Rupp said.

The services and programs offered by the Education Center make going to college easy and convenient for the entire Edwards community, center staff members say.

"First and foremost we are here to serve Airmen, but we do what we can for everyone," said Michael Frye, Force Development Flight, 95th Force Support Squadron.

Three programs are available at the Education Center, providing Airmen with the opportunity to complete associate, bachelor's, and master's degree programs without ever leaving the base. Cerro Coso Community College, Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, and Webster University offer classes in a traditional environment, as well as online.

For students interested in attending college in the community, advisors can help them enroll in a program in the Antelope Valley.

Airmen also have the opportunity to sign up for online classes and complete an associate degree from Community College of the Air Force. The facility also runs an established testing program, including the College Level Examination Program and equivalency testing.

Cerro Coso Community College offers a unique balance between online classes and the traditional classroom setting with hybrid courses. These courses alternate teaching methods on a weekly basis between online and in-class learning.

"People want what's comfortable and convenient. That's why the Education Center is great. It's conveniently located here at Edwards and provides students with a multitude of options," Rupp said.

A variety of services is also available from academic counseling to helping Airmen understand their Tuition Assistance and GI Bill. For those interested in signing up for an academic or financial program, the staff will help find the right fit.

Lead education technician, Arthur Pinzon works with students, both military and civilian, to find an educational program that's right for them. Frequently he works with servicemembers explaining benefits, options, and processes.

"I'm retired military myself, and I remember how tricky the educational process was. My goal is to make it easier. I want people to walk in with an idea and leave with a plan," Pinzon said.

Whatever the educational needs might be, center staff members are available to help.

"The goal of the education office is to get people on track to complete their CCAF and think about taking the next step toward their bachelor's degree," Pinzon said.

Those who are unsure about what course of study to pursue can benefit from the counsel of center staff.

"The customer's goal to be a nurse or a vet or an engineer is all we need to know so we can set them on a path to a successful undergraduate or master's degree, Pinzon said.

An undefined educational goal may be the only thing holding some people back. The education office focuses on helping people obtain a degree in an area that interests them that will also be good for their career path, Pinzon said.

The military faces unique circumstances and the educational programs offered on base or through affiliated programs do their best to accommodate the mission and deployments.
The Education Center also offers unique military-specific programs.

The Air University Associate to Baccalaureate Cooperative Program, or ABC, allows participating students who hold an associate degree from the CCAF to complete 60 additional credits to receive their bachelor's degree from an accredited university.

The Leaders Encouraging Airmen Development program allows commanders to select outstanding young servicemembers and recommend them for the Air Force Academy program.

To participate in the program, Airmen must have no more than six years of service and must be younger than 23 years old to attend the United States Air Force Academy directly. Airmen no more than 22 years old qualify to attend the Preparatory School before transitioning to the academy.

Upon completion of the program the Airmen become commissioned officers.

Whether people need to finish up a degree, begin a new education program, or have questions and don't know where to begin, center staff members are available to help.

"When you consider the skills learned in the classroom make for more professional and capable Airmen, it would be a shame to waste the opportunity when the resources are here and the money is available," said Rupp.

The Education Center is open between 7:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. For more information, please call 661-275-2713.

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