News: Division Marines take college classes in combat zone
Story by Cpl. Ned Johnson
CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan – Today’s Marine Corps encourages its members to continue education and personal development throughout their careers, but combat deployments can make it tough to take even an online college course. Some Marines are able to balance their time wisely and put in the extra work to earn a college diploma.
Several Marines with 1st Marine Division (Forward) have enrolled in college courses and spend the necessary time to excel in their pursuit of higher education.
“It’s important to continue your education. Being deployed doesn’t mean you have to put college on hold,” said Lance Cpl. Sarah Novotny, a combat photographer with 1stMarDiv(Fwd). “The important thing is not to get behind on your studies.”
While education is important to the Marines, it does not come easy. Most of the Marines work 70-80 hours a week and often 12-hour days, 7 days a week.
“My biggest challenge is time management,” Novotny said. “The mission comes first, so I have to balance my work and school.”
The Marines said they work on their classes between 10-20 hours a week outside of their job. Sometimes, the balance is about more than just time.
“The hardest thing for me is staying focused,” said Sgt. Scott Hencye, an admin clerk with 1stMarDiv(Fwd).
Hencye also said that the operational tempo of his job can shift his mission at any time during the day.
The Marines have to come up with ways of making sure they can still complete their courses.
“I put all my assignments on a disk or my personal computer, so that no matter where I am, I can always work on them,” said Novotny, a 20-year-old native of Streetsboro, Ohio. “I also email my instructor and let him know if I have a mission I have to go on.”
This dedication and time-management does not come without motivation.
“I wanted to be a good leader and a good example for my Marines,” said Hencye, a 24-year-old native of Mansfield, Ohio. “I know that education leads to more respect and trust as a leader.”
Hencye also said that education helps Marines become more well-rounded leaders.
The Marines are working on college classes now, but they are preparing for the future. Novotny and Hencye both said their classes are giving them a good basis for the degrees they want to pursue. Novotny wants to be a high school teacher and coach someday, and Hencye wants to be a firefighter.
“I’m glad I can serve my country in a combat zone and still continue my education,” Novotny said.