TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. --
Tinker graduates from the Community College of the Air Force received their diplomas during the spring’s formal ceremony May 4. The graduating class of 133 earned degrees in various fields, including aviation maintenance technology, criminal justice, human resource management, information systems technology and education and training management.
The graduates from the spring 2017 class earned 141 diplomas. Eight graduates received more than one degree.
As a worldwide program, the spring 2017 class earned more than 11,000 associate and applied sciences degrees. In expanding its partnership with higher education, the Community College of the Air Force enhances the skills and capabilities to strengthen both the United States and the Air Force.
The Tinker class adds to the legacy of more than 400,000 graduates and half a million degrees awarded since the college’s inception in 1975. The enlisted men and women who have earned the associate and applied sciences degrees add to the 35 percent of enlisted force holding at least one degree. Ninety percent of the force’s degree holders maintain rank of Master Sgt. or above, proving to be a critical asset in an Airman’s career progression.
Commending and praising the honorees was guest speaker Chief Master Sgt. Randy L. Kay II, the operations group chief for the 552nd Operations Group. Serving as the principle commander and seven squadron commanders on matters concerning morale, welfare, utilization, readiness, professional development career progression and training of over 1,200 enlisted assigned students, Chief Kay credits his success to earning his first CCAF degree in 2004.
Graduating from high school in small-town Oklahoma, Kay was the first male to graduate in his family. Claiming he had no skills, Kay just wanted to join and serve in the Air Force. After seven and a half years in, working as a boom operator, he decided he wanted something different – he wanted more.
In June 1999, Kay enrolled in his first CCAF course. Completing his degree of 60-hours spanned over the course of five years, the former boom operator spoke to the confidence that came from receiving his first degree.
“I started to believe I could do it,” he said. “I was much more capable and had more skills than I thought I did. The Air Force expects you to get the degree, so I achieved something the Air Force wanted me to do, and I also found that I enjoyed taking those college classes. A win-win.”
Two years after Kay completed his CCAF degree, he went on to earn a bachelor’s degree. Graduating with a 3.94 GPA, the chief’s only B came from a “NOT easy art class.” He explained the second-order effects that a degree brings – an education.
“This taught me how to focus, how to study, to write papers, and ultimately how to be a better test-taker,” Kay said. “I started getting promoted faster and I was moving up the ranks.” He attributed his current chief role to his success in attaining degrees, stating that without them, he wouldn’t be in the position he is in now. After earning a bachelor’s degree, the chief went on to work on his master’s degree, out of passion and drive not obligation. In following form, he passed those classes with honors.
“Every one of you will get out of the Air Force at some point in the future,” he ended. “Taking that first step and getting your CCAF degree will help you, it will make you more marketable. Keep going, keep fighting, and don’t procrastinate. Time is the only thing that speeds up, and though it is often stolen from us, time gives you experience. Congratulations on this amazing accomplishment, we are all so proud of you.”