JBPHH graduation ceremony honors service members

(Via Ho’okele News)

Senior Master Sgt. Donna Mottley, Hawaii top three military ceremonies committee lead, congratulates recent graduates during the Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam (JBPHH) military college graduation recognition ceremony held Nov. 6 at the Historic Hickam Officer's Club. U.S. Navy photo by Blair M. Gradel

Story by Blair Martin Gradel and Ensign Dorothy Wright

Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam Public Affairs

Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam (JBPHH) hosted a military college graduation recognition ceremony on Nov. 6 at the Historic Hickam Officer’s Club.

Col. Charles Velino, commander for 15th Operations Group at JBPHH and the keynote speaker for the event, encouraged graduates to continue to strive for future education opportunities.

“Try your best to learn something new each and every day,” he told graduates and family members during his speech.

“One of my favorite quotes is from Thomas Dewar, ‘Minds are like parachutes. They only function when open.’ What you have accomplished today shows both the desire and ability to open your minds, to continue to learn, to continue to increase your knowledge base, and strive for better understanding of the world around you,” he added.

More than 60 Navy and Air Force service members were honored who earned an associate, bachelor, master or doctoral degree between September 2014 and December 2015.

Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Noel Ramirez from the 766th Specialized Contracting Squadron (SCONS) unit, said one of the biggest reasons he chose to pursue a master’s degree in the first place was to show his children that “anything was possible.”

“At the rank that I’m at right now, it’s difficult to pull away from work and go to school,” Ramirez said.

“But my leadership made it possible for me to be able to attend classes and to be able to aggressively attack the coursework in order to get it done within a year and a half,” he said.

Aside from the graduates, family members were also in attendance to cheer on their spouses and family members as their accomplishments were recognized.

Mayra Salazar, military spouse, was there in support of her husband, Air Force Master Sgt. Joe Salazar Jr. as he received his master’s degree in acquisition management from American Graduation University.

“It’s been long, but it’s been good,” he said of the couple’s journey. “I would encourage all military spouses to be patient and supportive during this time.”

Navy Chief Master-at-Arms (EXW/SW) Jasper Johnson also echoed similar sentiments when he recounted his journey in pursuing an associate’s degree in business from Excelsior College.

“My encouragement to my colleagues and [their] spouses would be to continue to pursue your dreams and never stop,” Johnson advised.

“Continue to pursue your education because [keep in mind] whatever you learn, you take it with you after you retire,” he said.

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