The Fort Irwin Education Center celebrated American Education Week with an education fair Nov. 15, 2022, at Fort Irwin, Calif.
Barbara Diaz, an Army education counselor and test examiner with the education center, assisted in planning the event.
“This education fair is a huge opportunity for our community because it’s going to be able to give them that real time, face-to-face interaction with these schools and vendors that have these programs that they may be interested in,” Diaz said. “We’re in a very remote area, so it was very important for me to get as many schools as possible to come here and our goal with this education fair is to remove the fear that comes with starting your education for the first time or going back into it.”
Nearly 30 schools and vendors and five Fort Irwin organizations set up information tables, including the education center in case community members had questions about tuition assistance or any of the other resources the education center provides.
The Fort Irwin Education Center provides education counselors to help community members navigate their education journey, a college resource room, a Basic Skills Education Program class to increase a service member’s general technical score, or GT score, information about financial aid and tuition assistance, and more.
Sgt. Franklin Castro, an M1 armor crewman with 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment, attended the education fair.
“The reason I wanted to participate in the education fair is because I always want to explore all my options,” said Castro, a Boston native. “I’m currently two months away from taking terminal leave and I’ve been leaning toward higher education, so this place has a lot of options for me to look into and explore those options before I even get out.”
Diaz said helping the community understand their options is why she and the education center staff put so much effort into the event.
“We want people to know that there are options … you’re not just limited to one or two schools,” Diaz said. “All the folks at the education center are always going to be your unbiased resource to be able to make sure you’re getting the best program for you.”
For Castro, one of the biggest incentives to join the military included the education opportunities, he said.
“When I joined the Army back in 2015, a big reason why I did it was because of the academic promises and I’ve been able to take advantage of some of it,” he said. “I just want to be able to attend a campus or class online and have a bigger role in school than I have already.”
With the predictable schedule that the National Training Center provides its community, service members and any other beneficiaries can plan their education schedules, even if that means making sacrifices, Castro said.
“Instead of watching a movie or TV, I had to do my homework or read my books and when I had rotations coming up, I’d have to make up for times I wasn’t going to be in those classes,” Castro explained.
Castro said he’s glad people explored their options at the education fair and will possibly pursue their education goals.
“If you’re set on doing something, do it,” Castro said. “It’s not easy, but it’s possible.”
For more information on Fort Irwin Education Center services, call 760-380-4218.