CAMP VICTORY, Iraq - The crowd of family and friends filled the Comcast Center on the campus of the University of Maryland. Hundreds of University of Maryland University College students sat, clad in UMUC navy and goldenrod, waiting to be called forward to graduate with their respective degrees.
Many of them would join the work force and some pursue advanced degree programs, but one of them, U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Jonathan Baysa, would walk across the stage and straight to Iraq.
It took 11 years to get to that stage, and 11 years to be deployed, but Baysa isn’t stopping there, he’s taking on more challenges each day.
Baysa is currently the authorized service interruptions manager for all of Iraq. Working from his desk at the Joint Network Operations Control Center-Iraq, he’s the only military member on the job and is in charge of updating and maintaining all information technology circuits for the more than 46,000 personnel currently in country.
“There’s a lot of pressure,” the Jacksonville, Fla., native said. “The job is completely new to me and different than anything I’ve done. I can’t make mistakes or it will degrade the service for our users.”
At his home station of Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., he is a system administrator for the Nevada Test and Training Range and the tedious work there is similar to what is required here. Adapting to the new job and environment is something Baysa said was an easy transition thanks to the support of his coworkers.
“There are a lot of requests that come down with a lot of steps involved,” he said. “I work with two contractors though and they trained me very well and allowed me to learn the job quickly.”
A fitness guru, Baysa juggles his 12-hour shift, varying from days to nights, with daily distance runs outside and time in the gym. He also plans to build off of his recent graduation and further his education.
“Graduating right before the deployment was a great experience,” he said. “My family was there to cheer me on and it was a good time to spend with them right before leaving. I’ll be signing up for classes to get a master’s in IT Sciences and Cyber Security and Policy while I’m here.”
In addition to the constant studying required for those classes, he is also testing for master sergeant and hopes to apply for Officer Training School when he returns home.
“A challenge I expect is time management,” Baysa said. “I’ll be ensuring the mission gets done, spending time with family and friends, and making sure I spend enough time studying and completing assignments.”