News: Joint Education Center helps Marines earn college degree
Story by Lance Cpl. Jerrick J. Griffin
MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. — He works as an administrative operations clerk, but his ultimate goal is to one day become an architect. Going to college is the first step.
Pfc. Christopher Kolbe, supply administration operations clerk, with 1st Supply Battalion, Combat Logistics Regiment 15, 1st Marine Logistics Group, started with drafting and architecture in high school and is pursuing his goal by using all of the services the Joint Education Center has to offer.
"I always liked building things and working with my hands," said Kolbe, 19, from San Bernardino, Calif. "I used to watch my dad build things as I was younger, and as I grew up, I started to pick up on it."
Kolbe is a soft-spoken person at about five feet six inches tall. He is also married with no children. After graduating from high school, Kolbe joined the Marine Corps. He was influenced by a friend, who took the same step.
"I joined the Marine Corps to make self improvement," Kolbe said. "It was also a way to have a steady career."
Even with a steady paycheck, Kolbe wanted to continue his education.
"I want to go to college to get a better education, I'm not afraid to say it," Kolbe said. "I meet a lot of people who don't want to go to college simply because they are scared to go."
The JEC offers opportunities for Marines, sailors and civilians to further their education. Each person, just like Kolbe, has the option to have a counselor help them choose the right college, so they can get as much information as possible.
"There are a million and one services people can use here," said Pat Jeffress, branch manager for the JEC. "Even though we have all of these opportunities not many people use them."
Marines get $4,500 in Tuition Assistance every fiscal year to use for college courses. There are also many useful methods to use when going to college that the JEC can help set up. There are local colleges around base and classes for college on base. Classes can even be taken online, so education can continue while overseas or deployed.
Marines can also earn college credit through the College Level Examination Program.
"Most people are wasting a benefit," said Jeffress, from Riverside, Calif. "This is the opportunity to prepare themselves for the transition out of the military. Most people don't even get this kind of opportunity."