My educational journey includes training experiences as well as formal and informal education.
My mother was big on higher education and I observed her putting in hard work into pursuing her own education later on in her life, which served as an example in my life.
I started the journey by moving from Puerto Rico to the United States after graduating high school to learn English. Then I moved to Florida and began attending an English school. After learning the language, I decided to become a pilot; at least that was the plan, so I began to pursue an aeronautical degree and started taking private flying lessons while simultaneously working as an auto mechanic apprentice. At that time, the means to cover tuition was very slim so I utilized grants and paid the remainder out of pocket.
A couple of years went by and the cost was becoming unsustainable so I had to put my education on hold. Soon after, I began to look for alternatives to continue my education. A good friend that was in the military talked to me about it and that’s when the Air Force came into the picture. I found out that not only could I get awesome technical training, leadership skills and the opportunity to travel the world, but also my choice of professional education paid for! So I signed up.
When I first came into the Air Force I entered as a Security Specialist or as it known today Security Forces. That was my first technical training experience, which was intense and fun.
While I was in Security Specialist upgrade training I explored new interests in photography, computer graphics, computer repairs and webpage design.
After a couple of years in the field I decided to get back into school and changed my major to computer science. I became fascinated with computers and their capabilities; however, my current career field was demanding and not affording me the time for school, mainly because most of my classes were during the day and online classes back in those days were not widely available. So again my education was put on hold. I looked into cross training into a computer-related field and decided on the Maintenance Data Systems Analysis career field, which opened so many doors to numerous possibilities.
As a data analyst I’ve had the opportunity to gain experience using software tools and databases as well as hardware – some that is related to my job and some that goes beyond what is required.
That helped to set me aside from most in my field and open the doors for me to become a Computer Systems Administrator. While that was considered an additional duty, I was given further professional computer training in Windows Servers and Client, CompTIA A+ and Net +.
After that training I reengaged back with school and completed two courses of Advanced Wide Area Networks and Local Area Networks. After completion of those programs I proceeded to get a Cisco Certified Network Associate certification.
Not long after completing these classes I had to deploy and again, I had to place school on hold.
Upon returning from deployment I was given the opportunity to work for Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center. My new position as a Suitability Analyst came with many training opportunities. I received Suitability, Test & Evaluation, and Database Programming training as well as hands on test operations.
Throughout the time I have been in the Air Force I have worked toward my Community College of the Air Force degree and taken numerous College Level Examination Program (CLEP) tests. I am currently working on my last two classes to attain my CCAF degree in Information Management. Furthermore, I have also managed to complete my bachelor’s degree in Computer Science with a 3.77 GPA and I’m looking into pursuing a master’s degree in Information Technology. While my journey has been a challenging experience, it has been equally rewarding.