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Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton

"The West Coast's Premier Fleet Marine Force Training Base"

Educational opportunities available on Camp Pendleton

By Cpl. Shaltiel Dominguez | | September 8, 2014

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The crowd erupted in loud applause as Gunnery Sgt. Gina Pompeyo walked down the stage with a diploma in hand and a smile on her face. One of her twin daughters took pictures using her smart phone while the other jumped up and down joyfully.

Education was a major reason she enlisted, said Pompeyo, an honor graduate of Camp Pendleton’s Combined Graduating Class of 2014.

“I joined the Marine Corps to pursue college and provide a better life for my family,” said Pompeyo, a radio chief with I Marine Expeditionary Force. “My family and I left Colombia and moved to New York when I was four. It was a big city. We struggled when we first got there. However, joining the Marine Corps provided me with an academic foundation to help me and my family be successful.”

Each year, Marines like Pompeyo are given the chance to pursue higher education with the post 9/11 G.I. Bill and tuition assistance program at the Joint Education Centers on base.

“A lot of service members pursue education when they get out using the new G.I. Bill, but the majority of Marines that come to us are looking for tuition assistance,” said Pat Jeffress, an educational service officer and program manager with the JEC. “Around $4,500 is allocated annually to active duty Marines that apply to pursue educational endeavors.”

Several colleges offer associate and bachelor degrees at the JEC where there is a combination of online and on-campus instruction and coursework.

The JEC also offers the United Services Military Apprenticeship Program and the Marine Corps Credentialing Opportunities On-Line program, which adds credibility to the knowledge and experience that Marines obtain within their job fields.

“The USMAP allows Marines to legitimize what they do in the military by doing it with their civilian counterpart and actually get a certificate for it after many hours of participation,” said Jeffress. “We also signed up for what is called the Marine Corps COOL, which allows a Marine to take proficiency tests for his or her job field and obtain certification.”

“These programs allow Marines to obtain certifications in their actual professions, which can help in the future when they are building their resume,” Jeffress added.

This year, 100 Marines and family members earned degrees ranging from Criminal Justice to Computer Information Systems. Pompeyo was awarded a bachelor’s degree in social psychology.

“It doesn’t matter what your rank is or where you come from,” said Pompeyo. “Pursuing the education that the military provides will always open doors, no matter what.”
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