NEWS | Feb. 25, 2014

Navy College Office named best of the year

By Eric Sesit Joint Base Charleston public affairs

The Navy College Office on Joint Base Charleston - Weapons Station, S.C., has been named the winner of the Center for Personal and Professional Development Navy College Office of the Year for fiscal year 2013 in the small category.

Other winners are the Navy College Office Yokosuka, Japan (large category), and Navy College Office Everett, Wash. (medium category).

Although the Weapons Station took top honors in the small category, the staff's performance was anything but small.

"We provide service for all Sailors throughout North and South Carolina as well as Ft. Gordon, Ga.," said Karen Stanbery, JB Charleston's Navy College Office director/test control officer.

Stanbery is the link between a servicemember looking to further his or her education and making that dream a reality. Part counselor, part advisor and full-time servicemember advocate, her goal is to ensure everyone who wears the uniform has the opportunity to take advantage of all the education benefits provided by the military.

"Karen is a great example of someone who truly cares about her Sailors and Marines," said Ernest D'Antonio, Navy Voluntary Education Program director at CPPD headquarters, Virginia Beach, Va. "To decide the winners among our 33 offices, we looked at criteria from a variety of categories. Karen was outstanding in almost every category. She and her office were an obvious choice as demonstrated in her NCO's dedicated commitment to providing Sailors with a means to pursue their life-long educational and credentialing goals."

A civil servant for 27 years, Stanbery makes Sailors her priority as she provides many different services through the NCO.

For example, she is an advocate of Navy College Program for Afloat College Education. NCPACE provides educational opportunities to Sailors at eligible sea duty commands to meet the needs of deployable units. Courses are offered in both instructor-led and distance learning formats for commands that have certain deployable Unit Identification Codes.

Stanbery also reaches out to other commands, speaking to Sailors about tuition assistance and their veteran's benefits, trains Education Service Officers, and provides one-on-one counseling.

She also administers the Defense Language Proficiency Test and Defense Language Aptitude test for individuals wishing to become translators, and serves as a DANTES test control officer.

During fiscal year 2013, Stanbery helped 1,673 servicemembers use $2,880,761 in tuition assistance dollars. That money funded 5,081 courses.

And although many of her Sailors are from the Navy Nuclear Power Training Command located on the Weapons Station, Stanbery is quick to point out that if one of her troops calls from overseas, they become her priority to make sure their educational needs are met.

Most of all, Stanbery said she tries to ensure Sailors are prepared for the civilian world when they leave the service.

"Some of our Sailors say they plan on getting out of the military and making comfortable incomes when they leave," Stanbery said. "I just want them to be prepared for the reality of the civilian work force. Every job application asks if you have a college degree. Can you check that box? Did you know that the difference in pay for someone who can say they have a degree is about $20,000 more than someone who does not? You don't want to leave that money on the table."

Stanbery sees every servicemember who walks through the NCO door as a potential success story.

"I think my greatest joy comes when a Sailor walks into my office and is afraid to even get started on their education," she said. "Somewhere, someone might have told them they weren't college material. I have to hold their hands a bit more ... but then I see them graduate. You cannot put a dollar sign on that."

To learn more about your options to continue your education, contact the Navy College Office at 794-4493.