VANCE AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- A Team Vance air traffic controller was awarded his associate degree at a graduation ceremony held April 14, celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Community College of the Air Force at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama.
Senior Airman Xavier Collins, a controller assigned to the 71st Operations Support Squadron, was the sole representative for Air Education and Training Command at the week-long event.
“I would not trade the experience for anything,” said Collins. “Outside of the high-ranking officials, spending time with other Airmen who don’t have the same job as me was honestly really special. It was nice to build those connections.”
April 11-15, Airmen representing every major command joined Air Force leadership to recognize the importance of the CCAF program, which awards Airmen an associate degree in their respective career field.
Throughout the week the Airmen visited the Enlisted Heritage Research Institute, the First Sergeant Academy, Senior Noncommissioned Officer Academy, Chief Leadership Academy and the CCAF headquarters. Other events included the opening of the CCAF 50-year time capsule, and the anniversary graduation ceremony with special guest, Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force JoAnne Bass.
“With more than 272,000 registered students, we will continue to be the ‘College of Choice’ for our enlisted members, paving a way to their success for many more years to come,” said Lt. Col. Kevin Pond, the CCAF commander and commandant in an April press release from Air University.
“We will continue to provide the opportunities for all enlisted members who join our Air and Space Force to receive associate of applied science degrees, as well as pathways to earning bachelor’s degrees, industry certifications and workplace credentials --- to benefit our members for a lifetime,” said Pond.
Airmen can transfer 60 credit hours into the CCAD program and earn an Applied Science degree,” said Connie Tucker-Liles, from the Vance education office. “It consists of tech school credits, leadership credits and your general education classes such as social sciences, math and English. You essentially would have half of your bachelor’s degree completed,” she said.
Collins said he joined the Air Force with little college experience, but after three-and-a-half years of hard work he is close to obtaining his undergraduate degree.
“The CCAF is actually my first official degree,” said Collins. “I want to get my bachelor’s in operational management and hopefully use that as a steppingstone to pursue a project management certification.”
Collins is keeping his options about a career in the Air Force open following his time at Maxwell, but said that regardless of whether he stays or leaves, his CCAF degree is a notice to future supervisors and employers that he has the skills to do his job at a high level.
“The whole thing really put my career in the Air Force into perspective,” said Collins. “It was nice to build the connections I made with Airmen I met, so I am unsure where my future is headed next. But I do know it’s got to be good.”