Malmstrom education, training center helps Airmen achieve success

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Collin Schmidt
  • 341st Missile Wing Public Affairs
Achieving success in school can seem like a daunting task, especially for those new students who are just beginning to learn what it takes to enroll in a specific college and degree program.

Luckily, for Airmen at Malmstrom, there are programs in place and counselors with a vast array of knowledge who are here to help.

"The first thing we do is have our students go to a College 101 class," said Lanette Hetrick, 341st Force Support Squadron education services specialist. "We offer this class every Tuesday at 8:00 a.m. During the class, (students) will be walked through their education benefits, tuition assistance and Community College of the Air Force degree, which they can earn as well."

Most times, Airmen who are beginning their college education will complete their CCAF degree first. This is due, in part, to them already having credits that can be applied to these degrees from the education they received in technical school for their specific Air Force specialties.

After taking the College 101 class, enrolling in a college-level course is right around the corner.

Students who complete the course receive information on how to apply for TA and learn how being a military member will help them while starting their coursework. They are also given a list of different colleges they can attend, including local universities and institutions.

Park University has an on-base campus located in the education center. The Malmstrom campus offers Airmen and civilians alike the opportunity to take college-level classes, which are split into five, eight-week terms per year of accelerated sessions. Classes are also held in the evenings in order to better accommodate military members who work during the day.

There are two local schools as well - the University of Great Falls and Montana State University's Great Falls campus.

"These schools are more traditional so if you would like to sit in a classroom environment, most of the classes will take place during the day," Hetrick said. "MSU does also offer online classes as well, but (students) can go anywhere they would like as long as they offer online classes."

In fiscal year 2014, 182 Airmen from Malmstrom were awarded associates degrees, the largest graduation percentage within Air Force Global Strike Command.

Airman 1st Class Joan Galaang, 341st Logistics Readiness Squadron traffic management outbound specialist, said the experience of being able to start her degree and begin an education has been rewarding.

"I just completed a social science class and I'm getting started on my CCAF degree," Galaang said. "This is my first time attending college and the experience was actually not as challenging as I had expected. The counselors guided me step by step."

Galaang is currently completing her degree in psychology and is also interested in architecture. For her, she said, being able to attend school online works. Being able to fit classes into her work schedule and complete them on her own time is a great advantage to helping her complete an education while fulfilling her military duties.

"I came to the education center a couple times before starting my CCAF degree," Galaang said. "One of the reasons I joined the military was to complete my education. It really boosts your self-confidence and you also feel more productive."