Military offers education options.

NavyandBookThe military helps individuals advance their careers while enjoying a paycheck on the first and fifteenth days of every month.
Lilliana Reyes, a mass communications specialist petty officer 2nd class, who has been in the Navy for 11 years said she joined the Navy to continue her education and get out of El Paso, Texas.

“I didn’t have money for college or money to move out,” Reyes said.  “I was very shy and I also thought the military could give me the self-confidence to do more than what I thought I could do.”

One of the few ways in which the Navy helps pay for your education, she said, is Tuition Assistance, which is available to active duty personnel.

“It is free; you don’t have to pay it back, and it is very easy to start using it and your supervisors are going to be happy you are going to school,” she said.

She said that for those who serve and get out after their agreed term of service, there is the Post 9-11 GI Bill, which offers $120,000 for any university, college or vocational school. Through this bill, the government pays the institution directly. On top of the GI Bill, the Navy can help with housing and utilities with the Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH), and will also provide $1,000 for books and supplies.

“You also qualify for the Texas Hazelwood Act. The state of Texas offers you 150 credit semester hours for you to use in any state college or university,” Reyes said.

In addition, Navy COOL (Credentialing Opportunities On-Line) offers technical certifications that make former sailors more marketable on the outside world.

Being on active duty offers housing, a guaranteed paycheck, college money, medical and dental benefits, and access to base facilities as well as the liberty to go out and hang out with friends, she said. The Navy is only a nine-to-five job.

Reyes said that there is also the opportunity of going into the reserves; this is a part-time affiliation with the Navy that allows individuals to live in their home-town and work a regular job while obtaining experience, gaining a second skill and earning money for school.

Joining straight out of high school, enlistees go in as E1, or enlisted one. Having college credits, however, can advance the enlistee to E2 for 24 credits or E3 for 48 credits. While in some of the branches of the military, people can go straight to war after boot camp, in the Navy that is not the case. “Once you finish boot camp, you go to an ‘A’ school (apprenticeship school) for the job you selected. The Navy’s combat service is volunteer,” Reyes said.

Each military branch has different expectations. All branches, however, require every potential or hopeful enlistee to take the ASVAB test. Based on the AFQT, or composite score, the branch decides whether or not the applicant qualifies for service, Reyes said.

Staff Sgt Noel Wood, who has been in the Army for eight years, said that the Army offers anywhere from $47,000 to $191,000 for college education, plus $4,500 per year while serving.

“We have over 200 jobs that you may qualify for,” he said. “And yes, several can help you out in the civilian side.”

Wood said that in most cases people will not deploy right after basic training, but it may sometimes happen. He has deployed twice to Afghanistan.

Hesgar Rios, an Air Force enlistee who attends Midland High, said that the reason he decided to join was because they offer great career opportunities.

“I would have gone into the Marines, but I have talked to former Marines, and they say that after they stop serving they pretty much have to start from zero,” he said.

Rios said that Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps has helped him train for what is coming in basic training. JROTC is a high school extracurricular that is offered from the beginning of freshman year.

This group trains high school students and attempts to teach them self-defense, leadership skills and first aid.

Anyone who is a part of JROTC and who plans to enlist in the military is advanced to an E3, the equivalent of having 48 college credit hours.

“The reason I chose the Air Force is because it has so many scholarly benefits not only for me, but also for my future wife and kids,” he said.

MC police patrol campus, city streets.

Midland College Police have authority for arrests and other duties off the campus as well as on it. “Not only are we able to enforce the law at Midland College, we can also take charge around the city and are sometimes called to attend motor accidents nearby when the Midland police is unable to,” said officer Michele Van Stavern.

Van Stavern said that all of the officers in the MC Police Department are state officials and therefore, unlike Midland police department officers, they have jurisdiction over every county in Texas, including Midland.

She also said that MC officers are called when arrests are to be made out of city limits, whereas the Midland police would not be able to make such arrests.

“As far as tickets go the most common we give out are for speeding on the circle. After all it is considered a street” she said.

Richard McKee, Chief of the Midland College Police Department, said that MC officers are not only allowed to follow people off campus to give them tickets, they can also issue tickets to people who commit traffic violations on Wadley St. and Garfield Ave.

“The MC police has been called to address traffic problems, vehicle burglaries, a few assaults [and] accidents,” McKee said. “We have arrested a number of people who have been involved in violent crimes off campus that are on our campus currently.”

McKee said that last year there were 17 accidents reported on campus, not including those that take place on the perimeter (Garfield Ave. and Wadley St.)

“Most of these accidents take place in the parking lot” he said. “We did have one that involved an intoxicated driver who took out one of the poles in the center median by student housing. We had another vehicle rollover where a guy was cutting across the Chap Center parking lot in excess of 60 mph, lost control, hit the median went over the fence and out into the airport area.”

McKee also talked about a student who was also cutting across the Chaparral Center parking lot at a high-speed rate who hit the concrete median so hard it deployed his airbags and ended up totaling his vehicle.

He said that most of the accidents are caused by people backing up in the parking lots or going for the same space and not seeing each other.
McKee said that in his opinion, the number of crashes that take place on campus has not increased since the boom hit. Occasionally there are serious vehicular accidents, but they are rare. The major crashes occur at the intersections of Garfield Ave. and Wadley St., but those are not counted towards MC records because they are generally handled by the Midland police department. There have been some serious accidents but no fatalities accounted for.

Booming growth causes problems.

Students change career paths as Midland’s population increases.

Sonia Ford, Midland College mathematics professor, has noticed some changes that the oil boom has had in the minds of students.

“The college populations has not quite increased,” Ford said, “If anything it has actually decreased.”

One of the significant changes that has occurred is that more people are becoming interested in petroleum engineering.

“I have noticed an increase of people who already work for the oil business and want to come back for their engineering degree so they can earn more money,” Ford said. “Fewer students come to MC right from high school because they have the choice of making money and taking a break from studying to work.”

Although there are fewer students enrolling at Midland College, the waiting list at the MC child care center has gotten longer.

According to Tanya Primera, the director of the MC child care and development center, there have been major changes that have taken place at the child care center. One of the major changes has been the waiting list. While it used to be six months long it has gotten up to two years.

There are some exceptions to this rule. One of them is when a pre-K group graduates and the other is when one of the many children leaves the program.

According to Martha Ramos, a nurse at the Midland Family Physicians clinic, said that the population has indeed grown. She has noticed that many of the people that moved to Midland are oilfield workers in a range from early to late 20s.

The clinic she works at conducts the physicals required by oil companies in order to work for them.

In addition, she said that due to the population growth, especially in this season, the clinic has run out of commonly used medication. The flu shots are one of the most common types of medication to run out.

“We have ran out several times,” she said, “That is not counting the people who decide not to get the shot.”

Midland Independent School District Superintendent Ryder Warren said that one of the major by-products of the oil boom has been dealing with the cost of living. “Some of our teachers are probably paying half of their net income just for rent,” he said.

“Odessa is facing the same issues as we are (and also) in some of the smaller school districts.”

There are five things Midland is doing that no other district is having to deal with. The Scharbauer Foundation had donated $3.3 million over the next year and a half to help teachers out with housing and living expenses.

The Henry Foundation has donated $1 million for the same period of time to help the support staff at the schools.

The West campus of the Hospital has been renovated into hotel rooms. Fifteen teachers have been living in those rooms for the last three or four months.

“As a school district, we just bought 20 modular homes and we put them in the east side of town and we’ve got about 25 teachers living in school modular homes so they can afford to live here,” Warren said. “We dedicated probably $6.5 million of the school distric’s money just for salaries.”

He said what has changed most in this area ever since he lived here was the growth and variety of people who now inhabit Midland.

He is happy to say that the high school dropout rates are not as high as many presume.

Oil companies, as a matter a fact, are not taking in workers without a high school diploma which has helped the students stay in school.