Selfridge Airmen Earn Degrees in Afghanistan

  • Published
  • By TSgt. Dan Heaton
  • 127th Wing Public Affairs
Call it Operation: Algebra. Even when the building at Kandahar Air Base shook after another rocket attack, two Michigan Airmen kept working their equations.

Today, they hold degrees from the Community College of the Air Force to prove it.

Staff Sgt. Vanessa Rudolph and Staff Sgt. Jessica Homann, both munitions specialists with the 127th Maintenance Squadron at Selfridge Air National Guard Base, Mich., deployed to Afghanistan together in fall 2011, along with a group of about 325 Michigan Airmen and their A-10 Thunderbolt II attack aircraft. While at Kandahar, they decided to take a college algebra class during their off-duty hours. For both of the Airmen, it was the last class they needed to earn their CCAF degree.

Rudolph and Homann were among 21 Airmen of the 127th Wing at Selfridge who earned their CCAF and were recognized during a May 20 graduation ceremony at the base.

"We went to Afghanistan together and we earned our CCAF degree together, we were each pulling each other along," Homann said. "There were times we were in class and the building would be shaking from a rocket attack, but we kept on going."

Rudolph said finishing the degree was the end of a six-year journey from when she started work on the associate degree.

"I wanted to finish this to enhance my career in the Air Force to the best of my ability," she said.
Homann is a former elementary school teacher and took math in college, but not the correct algebra course that would transfer to the CCAF program.

"It was time to do this," she said.

The graduation ceremony was overseen by TSgt. Vincent Peterson, who had officially retired from the Air National Guard the day before. He had been overseeing the CCAF program for the wing for about the past six years. He was invited by his supervisors to serve as the master of ceremonies for the graduation, despite his retirement.

"I'm going to miss this part of being in the Guard the most," Peterson said. "The people I have known and worked with in the Guard."

Col. Philip Sheridan, 127th Wing vice commander, was the graduation speaker. He encouraged the graduates to celebrate the day, but then to keep on learning.

"Get out of your comfort zone," he said. "Because that is when you learn the most - learn about a different person, different culture or different religion."

The CCAF is the nation's largest community college program. Enlisted members of the U.S. Air Force are automatically enrolled in the program and earn some of the credit required for the degree through formal Air Force technical schools and professional military education. Additional coursework is taken through traditional civilian colleges.

The 127th Wing 2012 CCAF graduates are:
SSgt. Christos Batsios, Aviation Maintenance Technology
TSgt. Nathan Burrows, Munitions Systems Technology
TSgt. Glenn Fetty, Criminal Justice
MSgt. Richard Gordon, Human Resources Management
SSgt. Brian Harris, Aviation Maintenance Technology
SSgt. Jessica Homann, Transportation
TSgt. Michael Kiewski, Criminal Justice
SSgt. Holly Lecluyse, Aircrew Safety Systems Technology
SrA. Robert Lynch, Aircraft Armaments Systems Technology
TSgt. Bradley McDonald, Allied Health Sciences
SSgt. Eric McCulley, Criminal Justice
SSgt. Daniel McKnight, Aviation Systems Technology
SrA. Shamika Moore, Construction Technology
TSgt. Ricardo Perez, Aviationi Maintenance Technology
SMSgt. Douglas Powell, Criminal Justice
SSgt. Vanessa Rudolph, Transportation
SSgt. Brad Shinn, Criminal Justice
SSgt. Jared Shouey Logistics
SSgt. Robert Swenson, Aircraft Structural Maintenance
TSgt. Joshua Wessel, two degrees, Maintenance Production Management and Aviation Maintenance Technology
SSgt. Jarrit White, and Aviation Maintenance Technology