Sailors Earn Degrees While Deployed

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW) James Bartels, USS Boxer Public Affairs

ABOARD USS BOXER  - As of March 30 more than 350 USS Boxer (LHD 4) Sailors are taking advantage of the Navy's commitment to  education by taking Program Afloat for College Education (PACE) classes during their Western Pacific deployment.

Boxer Sailors have been able to attend three semesters of classes during the deployment to help them earn an associates degree from Central Texas College. Classes taught each semester have covered subjects such as liberal arts, math, sociology, history and language.

DART"The Navy is really advocating education within the ranks," said Chief Aviation Ordnanceman Mario Rico, a PACE student. "By providing  this opportunity, the Navy benefits by ensuring that its personnel are well educated. I plan on finishing up my degree in Human Resource  Management."

Classes are taught by certified PACE instructors who are accredited college teachers. Many instructors are retired college professors, while some  are teachers fresh out of graduate school. Currently, American Government and Political Science courses are being taught by Dr. Bill Kirtley, a retired high school and college teacher.

"I enjoy teaching in this environment," said Dr. Kirtley. "The inherent teamwork that exists within the military transfers over into  the classroom environment. The focus and dedication shown from the members in my class is something I didn't usually see in my normal  college classes."

PACE classes are tailored to the working Sailor and their schedules. Classes are held throughout the day to ensure that each student has the opportunity to attend. Classes are small, ranging from 20 to 25  students to provide a conducive learning environment. Another advantage of PACE courses is that they are free of charge; students are required to purchase only their textbooks.

"I'm glad that my education didn't have to stop just because I'm on  deployment," said Operations Specialist Seaman (SW) Jessica Harding.  "By the time I go to college most of my core classes will be done and  it cost me next to nothing."

Boxer will continue to hold PACE courses during its deployment and when back at its homeport in San Diego.

Boxer is the flagship for Boxer Expeditionary Strike Group, which is currently conducting maritime security operations in support of U.S. 5th Fleet. MSO help set the conditions for security and stability in the maritime environment, as well as complement the counter-terrorism and security efforts of regional nations. These operations deny international terrorists use of the maritime environment as a venue for attack or to transport personnel, weapons or other material.

Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command/Commander U.S. 5th  Fleet's area of responsibility encompasses about 7.5 million square miles and includes the Persian Gulf, Red Sea, Gulf of Oman and parts of  the Indian Ocean. This expanse, comprised of 27 countries, includes  three critical chokepoints at the Strait of Hormuz, the Suez Canal and  the Strait of Bab al Mandeb at the southern tip of Yemen.

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