TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. --
A major benefit in joining the Air Force is having the opportunity to serve your nation while earning your degree. Not only are there opportunities to enter the Air Force at almost any educational level, joining the service helps you discover new skills, obtain a degree, learn to lead and take your career to the highest level.
Airman 1st Class Juan Fuentes, 552nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, is one of Tinker’s latest educational success stories. The Airman, who works as an avionics maintainer for AWACS, is a couple of semesters away from earning his first bachelor’s degree. The first of hopefully many, he said.
In technical training school, Fuentes earned 42 credits through the College Level Examination Program and with the help of his counselors at Sheppard Air Force Base, 36 of his credits transferred toward earning his bachelor’s degree in computer science engineering.
“I knew what I needed to attain my associates, and I knew that if I pushed myself, I could finish my bachelor’s. Ideally, I could have that [degree] by this summer, but I’m hopeful that I will have it completed sometime this year.”
Just hitting his two-year mark in the Air Force, Fuentes performed extremely well in a recent graduation cycle and was awarded three scholarships. Ultimately Fuentes’ determination and motivation made a difference both inside and outside the classroom. He attributes some of his success to the guidance of his counselors that are available through Education Services.
“The counselors helped make the process seamless and they really encouraged me, which in turn gave me greater confidence in knocking out my bachelor’s as soon as I could,” Fuentes said. “Everyone wants their education, but it can feel difficult to seek out help. I knew I could handle the studying, but I needed to know what resources were at my disposal and what I could do to earn my degree.”
Fuentes said it was somewhat intimidating entering Eudcation Services, but his advisors were there to help him succeed.
As the oldest of four children in his family, Fuentes made the decision to join the military because he needed to be able to support himself and his family, without neglecting his education.
“Education has always been a priority for me, but I also needed to be able to do more than just ‘get by’,” Fuentes said. “The military made it easy for me to do both. It’s something that drives me to stay in the military. I want to lead by example and not because of what my rank allows or (does) not allow.”
That mentality clearly resonates in other aspects of his life. The Airman hopes to have paved the way and led by example for his three younger siblings, regardless of their decisions to join the military. Fuentes said he hopes that his performance and motivation will be the role model for his younger siblings.
“The military has totally set me up for success,” Fuentes said. “Earning a master’s degree and [Juris Doctorate] degree are opportunities that would’ve cost me years paying back as a civilian. As a maintainer, I can see where I benefit the mission while bettering myself.
“This makes me proud to wear the uniform and grateful for my mentors who have supported me. I’m eager to be a mentor myself, and pay it forward for the next generation of Airmen.”
Education Services is located in Bldg. 201. For more information, contact 739-7408.