Airmen balance service, school

Cannon Connections photo: Jared Tucker Staff Sergeants Kenneth Hopkins and Kenneth Langford walk to their public speaking class Monday at Eastern New Mexico University. Both men are avionics technicians in the Air Force and stationed at Cannon Air Force Base.

By Jared Tucker: Cannon Connections

Time is hard to find when balancing an active duty military career, training and a college education. Not only is it possible, it’s highly recommended, according to two United States Air Force members.

Staff Sergeants Kenneth Hopkins and Kenneth Langford are attending Eastern New Mexico University for the first time. Both have been in the Air Force for eight years, and were formerly stationed in Florida.

Hopkins, a first-semester freshman, said he never had time to pursue a college education until he transferred to Cannon Air Force Base.

“My last base (where I was stationed), I never had time to do anything at all,” Hopkins said.

Hopkins is pursuing his Community College of the Air Force requirements, he said, and that’s where all of his credits go — to earn a civilian’s equivalent to an associate degree.

“I eventually want to be a teacher,” he said, “it would be a nice, steady job after I’m done with my twenty years. And I like the number of days off (teachers) get,” Hopkins added.

Pursuing that teaching degree is a challenge, Hopkins said, since the mission always comes first.

“I’m trying to find the perfect balance of getting enough credits in a semester to not missing too much work,” Hopkins said.

Hopkins said meeting new people is one of his favorite things so far about college.

Langford echoed his partner’s comments about the challenging aspects of getting a college degree while serving in the military.

“Definitely finding time to study. The military requires really long hours,” Langford said.

Hopkins and Langford are both avionics technicians in the Air Force.

Langford, who has attended college off and on since 2005, said he is undecided on a major, but has his eye on a computer engineering degree.

“I’ve always been interested in computers. My first college experience I went through a computer certification course, through Microsoft,” Langford said.

ENMU offers a military waiver to active duty military and their dependents, according to Julie Hobbs, assistant director of enrollment services at ENMU.

Hobbs said ENMU was designated a “military friendly school” by G.I. Jobs magazine for the past two years, which means active duty military can enroll at the school without copies of their transcripts.

Hobbs said dependents of active duty military are still required to bring their transcripts to enroll.