CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- Three local Marines are set to pursue their master's degree at the prestigious Air Force Institute of Technology in Dayton, Ohio, beginning Aug.15.
The Marines, Gunnery Sgts. Brian K. Hamiliton, from Warner, N.H., P.J. Cole, from New York and Irene C. Johnson, from Richmond, Va., were three of six people selected in the entire Marine Corps for the Information Assurance Scholarship Program.
"This is a great opportunity for us because, as far as I know, it is the first time enlisted Marines have been given this sort of chance," said Hamilton, who currently works as a supply chief at Camp Johnson.
All those selected will be pursuing their degree in Information Resource Management, a course based primarily on computers, he said. The classes will last two years and upon graduating, those Marines in the IASP must remain on active-duty for an additional four years, said Hamilton.
Along with achieving a master's degree on the Corps' behalf, the Marines will return to the fleet with the new Military Occupational Specialty of 0689, Information Assurance, said Johnson.
"It is a new MOS and it will most likely specialize in computer security, something that has been strongly emphasized by the Navy after nine eleven," she said.
Requirements to be picked for the scholarship were highly competitive, said Hamilton.
To be considered, you had to be a gunnery sergeant select or higher, possess a bachelor's degree in computer science, information management or information technology. They must have served between 12- and 22-years. They can't be in a "short" MOS, Hamilton explained.
"I consider myself real lucky to have this opportunity after going to night school on and off for 13 years to get my bachelor's degree. I had my terminal leave papers in for May 1, and I was ready to retire, but I couldn't give up this chance," said Hamilton.
Johnson's secret to her good fortune is to be proactive, she said.
"Don't make excuses not to get your degree. Constantly ask your command and inquire what is out there for you to further your education."