Tiffany Earns her Bachelor’s Using Military Benefits
At the end of high school, most people make specific choices about their future: college, military service, getting a job, or pursuing other passions. Tiffany Honeycutt didn’t necessarily fit into just one of those boxes. Luckily, she found a pathway that didn’t require her to choose.
In 2017, seven months pregnant and on the cusp of separating from the U.S. Air Force after serving honorably for four years, Tiffany decided to finish her bachelor’s degree. As if two big life transitions—becoming a parent and entering civilian life—weren’t enough, Tiffany was driven to be an example for the daughter she was about to welcome into the world by earning her bachelor’s degree.
For the first three years of high school, I was dead set on going to college. I was in every college prep class you could take and I started to send in my applications.
Tiffany was a dedicated student and successfully earned scholarships to help support her college education, but it wasn’t enough to fully cover the expensive price of tuition.
I started to realize that paying all that money for tuition just wasn’t realistic, so I began to look into other options. My dad was actually the one who first suggested the military.
A veteran of the U.S. Army, Tiffany’s father encouraged her to speak with a recruiter and learn more about the education benefits offered to servicemembers and veterans. Tiffany had always had an interest in serving her country and continuing a proud family tradition, but it wasn’t until she learned about the tuition assistance benefits that she considered it a primary option. Tiffany was most attracted to the U.S. Air Force, due to its strong focus on continuing education.
When I met with a recruiter, I learned about the great education incentives for servicemembers. Having college paid for was the key for me and my future. I went into my senior year of high school with the mindset that I’d be joining the military and right after I graduated, I left for basic training.
Military Meets Education
Members of the U.S. Air Force are automatically enrolled in the Community College of the Air Force (CCAF), which allowed Tiffany to start taking college classes right away.
In my first year, all my classes were focused on my job in the Air Force as an aviation manager. Afterwards, I took classes that exposed me to the management side of my role.
Tiffany’s CCAF courses were 100% online, which gave her the opportunity to take courses little by little throughout her active duty service in the Air Force. Gradually, she built up a foundation in management; however, she also had a growing interest in a civilian career in education.
In addition to expanded career and education opportunities, the Air Force also gave Tiffany the opportunity to meet her husband, Kyle.
We met back at our previous base. We were in the same career field working as aviation managers and at the time, we were assigned regularly to the same deployments and temporary duty assignments.
As their relationship grew, Tiffany and Kyle began to imagine a future together with a happy family. Although they were deeply committed to the Air Force, they realized that one would need to separate from the military in order to foster a family dynamic that would work for them.
In the back of Tiffany’s mind, she had always dreamed about a career as a teacher, with specific interests in special education or American Sign Language. Because of her growing career interests in an area outside of military service, and the couple’s mutual interest in starting their own family, Tiffany decided not to reenlist and instead, use her Post 9/11 G.I. Bill™ benefits to continue her education and explore a career in teaching.
Bachelor’s Degree Bound
During the Transition Assistance Program, the military’s week-long required course for service members entering civilian life, Tiffany learned about the Associate to Baccalaureate Cooperative (AU-ABC), which is a program that maximizes Air Force education and training for transfer into a four-year college degree program.
There was a huge list of schools that are part of the AU-ABC program. I started to narrow by majors that were education-related, and that’s how I discovered the college.
Tiffany learned that she could apply her entire Air Force associate degree into the bachelor’s in Applied Studies – Education and Training at the college. All of her credits were transferrable and the Applied Studies major could bridge the gap between Tiffany’s experience in the Air Force and the field of education.
What really drew me in was my advisor. She was great at explaining the Education and Training major, and responded right away to all of my questions about getting started.
The flexibility of online learning was particularly important for Tiffany. She appreciated the structure, knowing when everything was due, and the ability to work toward course deadlines at her own pace. This became critical during her first few courses when she was pregnant and motherhood was new.
Right after I had my daughter, Adelaide, I would literally have her in a baby carrier while I worked on my laptop and did my homework. It’s a funny visual, but it made me feel proud, too, because I wasn’t only doing it for myself. I was setting an example for her.
In just over a year, Tiffany graduated with a 4.0 GPA! As a military spouse, her family has since relocated and Tiffany is focused on motherhood, but also plans to pursue a teacher certification when her daughter gets a little older.
My bachelor’s degree gave me a strong foundation, specifically with understanding the differences between adult learners and young learners, and how our minds process information differently. It’s such an important base in the field of education.
Earning an education, serving in the military, and raising a family aren’t often goals you pursue at the same time. Tiffany is grateful for her military education benefits and the flexibility of online classes for empowering her to achieve all of these milestones on her own terms and in a way that worked for her entire family.