News>Ellsworth’s own recognized as 400,000th CCAF graduate
Accepting a diploma as the 400,000th Airman to receive a degree from the Community College of the Air Force is Senior Airman Emily Barchenger. The Honorable Michael B. Donley, Secretary of the Air Force, presented the diploma and was joined by (R to L) AFA Central Florida Chapter President Michael Liquori, Community College of the Air Force Commandant Lt Col Jonathan T. Hamill, Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force James A. Cody, Air Force Chief of Staff General Mark A. Welsh III, and Air Force Gala Chairman Tim Brock. (Courtesy photo)
Senior Airman Emily Barchenger, 37th Bomb Squadron intelligence analyst, displays her Community College of the Air Force Associates Degree of Science in Intelligence Studies and Technology at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., Feb. 25, 2013. Barchenger completed her degree requirements while deployed to the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing in Southwest Asia. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Zachary Hada/Released)
by Airman 1st Class Hrair H. Palyan
28th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
3/1/2013 - ELLSWORTH AIR FORCE BASE, S.D. -- The Community College of the Air Force presented its 400,000th degree to an Airman from Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., during the Air Force Association Central Florida Chapter's gala in Orlando, Fla., Feb. 21.
Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley presented Senior Airman Emily Barchenger, 37th Bomb Squadron intelligence analyst, her diploma on behalf of the college during the event.
Barchenger, who attended the banquet with her father, a Navy veteran, said meeting the top leaders of the Air Force was a great honor.
"It was an amazing and humbling experience," said Barchenger, who heralds from Salem, Wis. "I enjoyed being there with my dad and meeting our leaders."
Barchenger completed the credits to obtain her Associate of Science in Intelligence Studies and Technology while deployed with the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing in Southwest Asia.
"We just finished our rotation in Southwest Asia," explained Barchenger. "Even though it wasn't my first deployment, it got stressful at times. During this deployment, I completed five classes toward my Bachelor of Science in Registered Nursing. Of course, I was also working nine-hour shifts - making sure aircrew were up-to-date with training, and dealing with events happening on or near our base."
She explained that one of her primary goals since she joined the Air Force October 2007, was to utilize tuition assistance to pay for her college education. She began work on her CCAF degree shortly after enlisting in the Air Force and completed approximately 50 credit hours in two and one half years.
"I think we're lucky that we can further our education at little to no cost," added Barchenger. "I encourage everyone to earn their CCAF. It can be very valuable even if you decide not to stay in the Air Force."
First Lt. Darren Wittkamper, 37th BS intelligence chief, said he has worked alongside Barchenger for more than 19 months. During that time, he's witnessed the hard work she puts in at work, her volunteer work in the community and her commitment to improving herself.
"She is a dedicated person," said Wittkamper. "It's a rewarding feeling to know that we have people like her working in our unit and in the Air Force."