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Degrees of growth

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Bonnie Grantham
  • 319th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
A key to progress in both a career and in life is to accept change and grow with it, whether in or outside the military.

A few Airmen here recently spoke about what change means to them and how it's helped them in their careers, as well as their personal lives.

Tech. Sgt. Chelsea Roberts, 319th Force Support Squadron Airman Leadership School instructor, decided to step out of her prior career field as an NCO-in-charge of air transportation when she arrived on Grand Forks AFB.

"I knew that I had to be here for a few years at least, and it was kind of a dead end," said Roberts. "I was the NCOIC, we don't have aircraft so here wasn't much to do. I knew getting a [developmental special duty] job would be good for my career."

Roberts already had her Community College of the Air Force (CCAF) degree for her first career, and when she became an ALS instructor, she was awarded a second one.

"The only reason I have two [degrees] is because I did this [special duty]," Roberts said. "When I got my original CCAF, of course I had to take all of the general requirements. Once I got that CCAF getting this one was just a matter of going to my technical school and getting those credits and then waiting."

Becoming an ALS instructor isn't the only way to acquire a second CCAF degree. Several special duties or cross training into a new career field can also lead to a new CCAF degree.

Master Sgt. Robyn Kaufhold, 69th Maintenance Squadron first sergeant, received her second degree by becoming a first sergeant, but she hasn't just stopped there, either.

"Learning never stops for me," said Kaufhold. "It keeps me young and relevant and helps me to be a better person and a more servant leader."

Kaufhold's Air Force career began in the communications career field where she was the communications security manager.

"I come from a black-and-white world as a former COMSEC manager," Kaufhold said. "I was working with classified information all the time, and with classified work it's very definitive: you can or you can't. It was clear cut. Now I play in the grey."

It's important to remember that earning a CCAF degree or stepping outside of your career field doesn't have to be just about checking a box.

"As a first sergeant you have to be able to adapt," Kaufhold said. "I think that education, wanting to get as much leadership and management perspective, learning and continuing to educate yourself and push yourself into uncomfortable situations helps. It all starts with education. Education is the stepping stone to putting you outside your comfort zone."

For some people, the decision to step outside of their career is not only about self-improvement, but also an opportunity for more family time.

"I got married and wanted more family time, and my wife suggested I retrain," said Tech. Sgt. Timothy Davis, 319th Air Base Wing ground safety technician.

Davis decided to retrain from security forces to safety. Before his switch, he obtained his CCAF degree in criminal justice, and was recently awarded his second degree in safety.

"I was in England from 2006-2012 and my supervisor was really into education," Davis said. "He harped on me to get involved in it, so I did. I jumped into classes and completed some of my first CCAF during multiple deployments and finally got it in 2010."

The necessity of having a CCAF degree wasn't as great when Davis first joined as it is now.

"Nowadays, senior airmen are getting their CCAF, but when I was an Airman, there were [master sergeants] and [senior master sergeants] that didn't have one," Davis said. "So I think it shows that you're dedicated to furthering your education in your career field or your specialty. It doesn't just make you marketable in the military but it also provides skills for outside of the military. It's just one of those stepping stones."

All three Airmen had different reasons to step outside of their career field, but the advice from each remained the same.

"My advice is to just get it knocked out, whether it's through CLEPS or taking classes," Roberts said. "Through personal experience, you're never going to have as much time as you have right now. No matter if you're an A1C or a tech sergeant. As you make higher rank, you're going to get busier, so if you keep putting it off until the last minute you're not going to have the time. Your career is in your hands, so don't ruin it by something as simple as getting a CCAF."