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Higher Education fuels innovation

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Abbey Rieves
  • 17th Training Wing Public Affairs

GOODFELLOW AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Maybe in a few years, not now, thought the recently commissioned lieutenant.

 In 2013, as a 2nd. Lt., Capt. Perry Byrd had completed his bachelor’s degree, was recently married and expecting a baby.

Now still isn’t the time, he sighed, thinking about all the changes in his life.

He then graduated the 14N Intelligence Officer course on Goodfellow, in 2014 and was off to his first duty assignment.  

Maybe at my next assignment I’ll start my master’s degree.

When he experienced what his career field entailed at his first assignment, Byrd realized higher education would be beneficial and that his opportunity to start was now.

“Through tuition assistance, the credit hours from my technical training here, and the Yellow Ribbon Program, I didn’t have to go out of pocket at all,” recalled Capt. Perry Byrd, currently an instructor at the 315th Training Squadron. “I started my master’s degree the very next available semester.”

The Air Education and Training Command’s 14N Intelligence Officer course on Goodfellow has unique agreements with several universities nationwide that allow course graduates to transfer 12-15 credit hours towards approved graduate level programs for free.

By utilizing the credit transfer program, Byrd attained his master’s degree in less than two years.

“I love that the Air Force has so many programs that encourage people to seek higher education,” said Byrd. “I’ve seen so many operational improvements, and I think higher education plays a role in that.”

As identified in the 2018 National Defense Strategy, higher education enhances leadership, military professionalism, and warfighting readiness.

“Military members who have pursued higher education, whether officer or enlisted, are my best and most successful troops,” said Byrd. “Higher education allows them to think outside of the box and apply what they’ve learned in their jobs. It opens more doors of information and exposes you to more resources to better take care of yourself and others.”

Educational advancement opportunities, like Goodfellow’s credit transfer program, not only provide resources to fuel innovation, but also emphasize educational development, which ultimately builds stronger Airmen for the joint force.

 “Gen. Brown and senior leaders have addressed the necessity to ‘accelerate, change or lose,’” said Capt. Tyler Sumrall, 315th TRS instructor. “Many of the key approaches to this mindset can be tied to the importance of pursuing higher education and expanding our intellectual ability to address further change.”

Like Byrd, Sumrall also graduated from the 14N Intelligence Officer course and transferred the credits towards a graduate degree.

“It’s an awesome program, for intelligence officers specifically, to further their education,” said Sumrall. “Because of Goodfellow’s credit agreements, nearly a third of a master’s program is fulfilled because of the arduous training you’ve already experienced.”

Like Byrd and Sumrall, many additional force generators are the backbone of the 14N course, continuously leading by example.

“All of our instructors are the torch bearers who illuminate and mold students into effective intelligence officers,” said Capt. Jesse Johnson, 315th TRS 14N Intelligence Officer course flight commander. “From the pursuit of master’s degrees to local training, our instructor cadre relentlessly pursue education to improve themselves and ultimately our students.”

The time is now: accelerate, change or lose.

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