EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. — “It’s all the stuff I’ve always wanted to learn, and it’s completely free.”
Two 53rd Computer Systems Squadron Airmen recently shared how the Air Force opened wide the doors of educational opportunity, and how they set themselves up for success in both the military and civilian worlds.
“I’m a big cyber security guy, that’s why I joined the Air Force in the first place,” said Airman 1st Class Logan Flook, 53rd CSS technician, who pursued a degree in network administration and cyber security before joining.
Flook and his father, a career information technology employee, discussed the fastest way for Flook to enter into the cyber security field. The answer – the Air Force.
“Including basic training, I calculated it’d take me less than eight months before I was in the hands-on field and building up my resume. I was done being a sophomore.”
At computer systems technical school, Flook earned the coveted CompTIA Security+ certification, a commercial, nonmilitary certification which is the base line and foundational building block of the security world.
“If you don’t have good security, you don’t have a company,” he said. “This cert is a standard in the field of IT. I was pretty ecstatic when I got mine.”
When Senior Airman Bridgette Wedel joined the Air Force, she too was driven to learn as much as possible as quickly as possible.
“Cyber security … that’s what my bachelor’s degree will be in,” Wedel said. “When I came in, that was my goal, to finish my bachelor’s within my first enlistment.”
She completed her required career development courses, earned her Community College of the Air Force degree and passed the security+ certification test in her first two years. She continued to push, taking two classes every five and a half weeks for the next two years and finished 32 credits while deployed.
“My four-year mark is June, and I graduate at the end of the month,” she proudly announced.
Being raised in a military family fostered Wedel’s drive to earn her education and serve her nation. Both of Wedel’s parents were Marines. She said she watched as her father completed each degree he earned.
“Education will open doors, especially in the IT world,” she said. “There are two more certifications I want to get. That’s my next four-year goal.”
Both Wedel and Flook emphasized the plethora of job opportunities that exist for them when their careers in the Air Force eventually come to a close.
“I have plenty of options,” Wedel said. “I want to stay in (the Air Force) because I want to stay in, it’s not because I feel like I have to or there aren’t other options out there. It’s because I want to continue to wear this uniform.”