BAGHDAD, Iraq - Staff Sgt. Rocky L. Sampson, a Lumberton, N.C. native, supply sergeant, 50th Signal Battalion, is scheduled to earn his associate's degree in Applied Science in Criminal Justice from Central Texas College, May 17, at the Al Faw Palace, Baghdad.
After 93 credits and seven years of taking classes at various schools, Sampson decided to finish his associate's degree during his 12 month deployment to Camp Liberty, Baghdad.
"I think being able to take classes here is a great opportunity for Soldiers to continue their education, earn promotion points and wind down after stressful days," said Sampson.
Lisa Brooks a psychology instructor with the University Maryland University College in Iraq has seen many students further their education by taking various courses ranging from an Armed Forces Vocational Aptitude Battery improvement class to a Basic English class.
"I hope service members realize it's possible for them to earn a degree," said Lisa Brooks. "It may take service members longer to earn a degree than most people at home, but they can do it."
The Education Center enables Soldiers to take online courses and offers core classes such as English to take in a classroom setting.
"It's not like normal colleges, we have about 15 students per class," said Brooks. "The one on one contact available to students provides personal interaction and builds camaraderie. I think many students are more focused when taking classes here. They don't have all the distractions of home here."
Even after stressful days, Sampson finds the time to work on his education.
"I am fortunate enough to have a very understanding and supportive leadership that allowed me enough time to take classes," said Sampson.
The graduation encompasses around 50 Servicemembers graduating from classes at 10 different schools.
"Watching these students graduate is the greatest feeling ever," said Brooks. "I feel like a proud parent. So many have issues going on at home, but they push forward and finally they have achieved this monumental moment."
Sampson plans to further his education at the University of North Carolina Pembroke once he returns from deployment.
"I hope Soldiers don't give up on the goals they have set, no matter how long it takes them to complete their goals," said Sampson.
This work, North Carolina Soldier Finishes Degree in Iraq, by SPC Karin Leach, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.