Education: Don’t quit, ever

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. Paul Sikora
  • 92nd Air Refueling Wing command chief
I recently completed another step in my life's path, and this step was a long stride. How long, you might ask? The answer is, almost 25 years in the making with stops at 14 assignments and more than two dozen deployments.

So, what was the step? I had the honor of receiving my Master's degree in Leadership and Management from Webster University June 8.

The significance of my degree has many layers, but at the completion it boiled down to a basic life lesson and a quest for self improvement. The lesson is to never quit. I started taking college classes slowly with a simple History 101 course that earned me my first three credit hours. Three down ... one hundred seventeen to go!

In retrospect, of course, the area of study and the credits earned aren't important; what really mattered was getting started. The wise person who said the first step is the hardest knew what he was talking about. I didn't ever stop working on my education after that weekend class. There were times ... years at a stretch ...when I didn't take classes due to mission requirements and personal responsibilities, but I never stopped believing I would complete my degree.

Along the way I found the process of education just as important as the result. Make no doubt about it, I definitely learned from my classes, but I also met fascinating people and faced challenges in time management, balancing priorities and risk taking. Those aspects of my education far outweigh what little I remember from History 101 and add richness to my life every day.

Education can be difficult and determination is needed to succeed. But don't quit, ever.

(This commentary is the first in a three-part series on education.)