Flexibility for active-duty soldiers

Jason Cannavino earned his associate degree from El Paso Community college while serving in the U.S. Army. (Photo: EPCC)

The flexible schedules and remote learning opportunities offered at community colleges attract many active-duty military personnel such as Jason Cannavino.

In the midst of field exercises at Fort Bliss in Texas, work, family and being stationed in South Korea, Cannavino, a U.S. Army soldier, decided he wanted to complete his associate degree. He needed a college that would fit his busy schedule and a degree plan that offered evening and online courses. That is when his wife and counselors from the Fort Bliss Education Center suggested El Paso Community College (EPCC).

“I needed a school that was going to be able to work with me,” Cannavino said. “EPCC had campuses that were close to Fort Bliss and my home, making it very convenient for me to head to class as soon as I got off work. The flexibility of EPCC with the various campuses as well as the online courses were great since being in the Army, it can be difficult to try to fit a class or two.”

If juggling work, field exercises and fatherhood wasn’t enough, Cannavino also was sent on a mission to South Korea for two months while he was enrolled at the Texas college. With the assistance of his professors, Cannavino said he was able to complete his courses and graduate and also get some hands-on experience in his field of study.

Through the mass communication degree plan, Cannavino was required to complete service hours with a media-related organization. He spoke with his mass communication professor who suggested other ways to complete the requirement.

“I ended up working alongside my unit’s public affairs officer and was afforded a chance to take photos and assist in writing press releases with him,” Cannavino said.

Out of the 161 photos Cannavino took, 46 of them were posted on the unit’s Facebook page, and two of them were published in the Fort Eustis newspaper. One even made the front page.

Cannavino plans to continue his education at Old Dominion University in Virginia to pursue his bachelor’s degree in communication while remaining in the Army.

“I feel that the communications side of everything gives me a different take on everything that I do and helps me see things in a different light,” Cannavino said. “I also plan on crossing over from the enlisted side of the Army to the Warrant Officer Corps. This has been a goal of mine for quite some time and now that I have successfully completed my associate degree, I can now take the next step forward in reaching that goal.”

About the Author

Alexandra Hinojosa
is a freelance journalist and mass communications instructor at El Paso Community College in Texas.