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Guests of honor stand for the Marine Corps Hymn during the 40th annual graduation recognition ceremony at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina, May 28, 2015. The Ceremony was held to honor students’ extraordinary accomplishments as they completed degrees in their fields of study.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Jason Jimenez

Graduation to honor military members, families for academic achievements

1 Jun 2015 | Lance Cpl. Jason Jimenez 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing

Nearly 200 service members and family members crossed the stage at the station theater here, May 28, to receive degrees in their fields of study and be honored for their extraordinary academic accomplishments while enrolled in the Voluntary Education Academic Degree Program.

The program’s 40th graduation recognition ceremony highlighted graduates who received associate, bachelor’s or master’s degrees. The graduation featured guest speakers from multiple colleges and live music from the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing Band.

“You cannot be going to college and be successful while neglecting your job as a Marine and you cannot be a Marine successfully and neglect your studies,” said Cherry Point Sergeant Major Benjamin L. Pangborn. “The initial struggle is getting used to setting time aside for being a Marine, schoolwork and family.”

Pangborn started college in 1998 and paced his education throughout his Marine Corps career. He received his master’s degree in business administration during the ceremony.

“What kept me going is being an example,” said Pangborn. “Not only for my family, but for the junior Marines. Pursuing an education will benefit them in any career choice they make.”

Graduates from Craven Community College, Southern Illinois University, Park University, Boston University Metropolitan College and military personnel who participated in voluntary education programs to further their education were given the opportunity to walk down the aisle to be rewarded for their hard work and dedication.

 “If you want to do 20 years in the Marine Corps or just do four and out, education is going to benefit you either inside the Marine Corps or outside the Marine Corps,” said Sgt. Daniel Vargas, an air traffic control navigational aid technician and supervisor at Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron. “Stick with it, it’s going to be tough, but if I can do it, you can do it.”

Vargas graduated as a Bachelor of Science in electronic systems technologies, one of the nearly 200 graduates gaining recognition for their academic achievements.

“Balancing student life and Marine life is a little difficult,” said Vargas. “You are going to lose a lot of nights, weekends and sleep, but if you study hard and work hard, you can do it. The end result is worth it.”

The graduation celebrated the end of the 2014-2015 curriculum.

To learn more about educational opportunities at Cherry Point, contact the Marine Corps Community Services Education office at (252) 466-3500 or visit

2nd Marine Aircraft Wing