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A college degree is closer than you think

Pierce College offers programs to military, dependents and civilians on JBLM

Your education goals are closer than you think at Pierce College. Courtesy photo

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Most education seekers aren't fortunate enough to live in an area with such a plethora of fine educational institutions to choose from. Washington state has over 60 colleges, and more than 15 of them are within a 25-mile radius of Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM). If you think you can't meet your education goals while stationed here, you're wrong -- these colleges offer online and in-class programs in a large variety of majors and degrees -- many of them catering to military lifestyles and budgets.

One such college in the area is right in our backyard. Pierce College has campuses in Lakewood, Puyallup, and right at Stone Education Center on JBLM, as well as a virtual eLearning program. Pierce College is a two-year community college offering undergraduate programs with an open admissions policy. Students attend full-time and part-time, pursuing Bachelor and Associate degrees and Professional Certificates from 68 programs of study. Pierce College has been the starting point for many students in fulfilling their dreams in healthcare, business and education fields.

One such student, Army Major Sam Lyon, was recently accepted to Harvard Medical School after completing anatomy and physiology courses at Pierce College on JBLM to pass the Medical College Admission test. Another student, veteran aviator and Command Chief Warrant Officer Teresa Burgess, received her Associates in Technology, while working during the day and taking evening classes.

Currently, veteran and military spouse Geoffrey Lundwall is attending Pierce College to obtain his degree in criminal justice. "I hope to open my own wilderness survival school within the next five years, but I want a criminal justice degree as a back-up so I can be a park ranger in the meantime until my business is up and running ... I talked to most of the other colleges and none of them really offered what I was specifically looking for in regards to outdoor subjects," he said. Lundwall also chose Pierce College because of the ease of transferring credits, programs offered, and ability to easily work with the GI Bill benefits.

Military Times recently rated Pierce College as the best community college for veterans in the state of Washington, as they pride themselves on the resources and services provided to veterans and their family members. Their financial advisors can walk you through options including scholarships, grants, and other funding sources available to Army, Navy, Marine, Coast Guard, and Air Force veterans, active-duty and their dependents. Many veterans qualify for additional financial aid on top of their VA educational benefits. In fact, the Veterans Services Offices at Pierce College act as liaisons between students using their VA educational benefits such as the GI Bill and the Department of Veterans Affairs, making the process as smooth and transparent as possible.

Continuing your education is not only attainable (even with a full-time job), but it is the best way to help you reach your professional goals. At Pierce College at JBLM you can explore the options available to servicemembers and their families, including accelerated programs, Servicemembers Opportunity College, military-focused scholarships and more. A college degree can help you earn more money and benefits, as well as mold you into a better leader and professional. If you are interested in speaking with a representative about how Pierce College can work for you, be sure and attend the Military Dream Big Fair Feb. 16 at Capital Christian Center in Lacey between 9 a.m. and noon. For more details and to RSVP, visit:

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