CAMP BONDSTEEL, Kosovo - University of Maryland University College held a ceremony, Aug. 6, to celebrate its 60th year of educating students outside the continental United States.
The UMUC field office located at Camp Bondsteel offers college-level courses in areas ranging from computer science, history, writing, government and more. During the past 12 months, more than 300 soldiers with Multinational Battle Group East have completed coursework with UMUC.
"Students, in this case, soldiers, are able to continue their education," said Visar Azemi, field representative and teacher for UMUC at Camp Bondsteel. "We are here for soldiers. With educated soldiers, we will have an educated military."
UMUC offers traditional, face-to-face classes, as well as several on-line courses that provide maximum flexibility to students.
"We are about 90-percent face-to-face," said Azemi. "Our classrooms are set up for up to 20 students, and are well equipped with furniture and technology."
With the wide variety of classes offered, UMUC reaches out to educators from all over the world to serve as faculty. Professors come from the U.S., Germany, or from local colleges and universities in order to provide the best experience possible to students.
"We look for teachers for specific courses based on soldiers' needs," said Azemi. Adjunct professors are sometimes members of the current rotation at Camp Bondsteel, meaning that course availability will vary greatly based on the needs and availability of any given KFOR rotation.
Command Sgt. Maj. Larry Robinson, Pleasant Plains, Ark., Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1-114th Security & Support Aviation Battalion, is exactly one of these individuals. During KFOR 13's rotation at Camp Bondsteel, Robinson will be teaching business courses with UMUC.
"This is a great time and place for soldiers to get their education," said Robinson. "I hope to be able to give them something good to learn from."
Della Hodges, the Camp Bondsteel Area Support Team manager, took courses with UMUC in Frankfurt and Munich, Germany, and now uses that education to work for the soldiers stationed at Camp Bondsteel. Her experience provides an example to service members seeking to advance their own education.
"If you have time during your deployment, use it," said Hodges. "Enjoy life, but use your time here. An education makes a big difference and can change your life."
"The tenacious men and women who are working on degrees overseas deserve to be recognized here today," said Azemi. "They are moving forward in a positive way, working on something valuable, and staying connected with others who share their positive goals."
In addition to its Camp Bondsteel facility, UMUC operates campuses outside the U.S. in Europe and Asia. UMUC has been in operation on Camp Bondsteel since 2001.