An NCO’s Thoughts on continuing education

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Jennifer Pemp
  • 92nd Medical Operations Squadron Physical Therapy
On July 2, 2002, like many other new and eager Air Force recruits, I found myself sitting in an Air Force recruiter's office ready to sign on the dotted line to serve my country. The appeal of traveling, training, wearing the uniform and deploying to hot spots around the globe lured me through those double glass doors. To my surprise, I discovered that I would have to wait 10 anxious months before I could make the 120-mile journey to Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, to begin Basic Training. I was very disappointed. I feel I must have been blessed with the most inspiring recruiter in the state of Texas.

Tech. Sgt. Bennett was a tall, thin, red-haired man with the "GO-power" of the energizer bunny. How he fit so much in a 24-hour period, including sleep, I still mull over to this day. He was a full-time student on top of his full-time recruiting schedule. In the 10 months I spent on delayed entry he strongly emphasized the importance of "education for the military member." He told me that my success in technical school, on-the-job training and even my military career as a whole, rested completely on my shoulders. He made sure that I understood the educational opportunities the Air Force offered and why it was so important to use them. But mostly, Sergeant Bennett taught me that through continued education, one acquires the ability and knowledge that will aide in a successful Air Force career, whether leading or following.

The ability to study hard and work well with instructors and peers is crucial. Many careers in today's Air Force require the ability to multitask, stay organized and focused, communicate articulately and understand the importance of self-discipline. Within the last six years and two deployments that I've undertaken in the Air Force, I realize even more the importance of these abilities.

Regardless of your Air Force Specialty Code, special tasking, or rank we all represent the United States and the Air Force as ambassadors. Sister services watch and evaluate, not to mention highly rely on, our capability to provide superior air, space and cyberspace power while our foreign allies and enemies judge our appearance, knowledge and the respect we demonstrate for their country and culture.

I think that continuing education is the key to becoming a better Airman, non-commissioned officer, physical medicine technician, co-worker, leader, ally or even as a friend. My educational goals have expanded my job and skill knowledge, global awareness, management capabilities and so forth. I must lead by example encourage others to continue their education, complete their Community College of the Air Force degree requirements, or pursue their civilian degree by demonstrating and explaining the benefits of doing so.

Pursuing educational opportunities not only allows the opportunity to apply for a commission, it provides one with the diverse knowledge needed to manage confidently, supervise expertly, follow respectfully, understand globally, educate many, and most importantly for me, to provide competent care to all Air Force medical service beneficiaries.