Regardless of where in the world she is stationed, U.S. Navy sailor Taryn Fredericks continues her online degree program with Saint Leo University.
The balmy island of Guam – where Petty Officer Second Class (E-5) Taryn Fredericks is currently stationed aboard submarine tender USS Emory S. Land – is a long way from her snowy hometown of Syracuse, New York.
So are most of the other locations around the globe where Taryn has been deployed: Oregon, Hawaii, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Diego Garcia, the Philippines and Japan.
Even though she's far from her parents in New York and her brother who is an E-6 Staff Sergeant with the U.S. Marine Corps in San Diego, California, Taryn makes the best of her deployments.
When the logistics specialist and Custodian of Postal Effects isn't on-duty, she loves to hike the lush tropical terrain, snorkel thriving coral reefs, and enjoy the island's majestic sunsets.
That is when she's not studying and doing homework.
The Emory S. Land shifted its homeport to Naval Base Guam last year to support four fast-attack submarines, as well as provide essential forward support for submarines rotationally deployed throughout the U.S. Pacific Fleet area of responsibility. Taryn, herself, has been stationed in Guam for more than year now.
But as she has traveled the globe in service to her country, she has been able to remain steadfast in her pursuit of a college degree.
Thanks to the flexibility of Saint Leo's online degree program in business management, the 27-year-old sailor has been able to take her college studies with her wherever she goes.
Online program suits mobile military lifestyle
"Saint Leo is a virtual classroom. All of my tests, homework, and textbooks are online. I don't have to go to a classroom. I can study right on my couch at home."
The courses include online video lectures, homework assignments, and chat rooms for interacting with other students. Faculty and advisors are always just an email message away.
"I am taking two classes per term," says Taryn. "I work from 0800-1500 Monday through Friday, and after work I will normally spend my night completing homework assignments. When I get home from work, I hug my kitty, make some dinner, and get the computer out to start on my classes."
Because Guam is 14-15 hours ahead of the Eastern time zone depending on daylight saving time, Taryn says she normally submits her homework a day early. And when she has questions about the course material or an assignment, she emails her professors.
"My professors are really good at getting back to me quickly," she says. When she has had questions about homework, the professors have explained it to her via email. "They are awesomely understanding."
Taryn says her advisors have been great, too. "I have never had any better advisors than the ones from Saint Leo. They both have helped me from day one, understanding my situation and taking me step-by-step on what to do to become a student and sign up for classes."
Maximizing military education benefits
As an active-duty sailor, Taryn has been able to use the Tuition Assistance benefit. "The government pays for all classes, so you do not have to use your GI Bill until you absolutely have to, or you can transfer your GI Bill to your spouse or kids," she says.
For Taryn, the process to utilize her Tuition Assistance benefit at Saint Leo has been easy, and she highly recommends other active-duty military personnel take advantage of the TA benefit while they can.
"There is nothing like free education. Nothing comes out of your pocket and it is a great benefit. You won't regret it. You will regret, however, if you don't take advantage of it."
Prepared for a great future
Taryn enlisted in the military at age 23, has already served four years and recently re-enlisted for another six. She says that her military service has provided her with numerous benefits – meeting new people every day, making great friends, traveling the world, and giving structure to her life.
"It has allowed me to learn what a routine is and has greatly impacted my life in helping me to grow as a person," she says.
Her military experience also has helped her identify a career path. Prior to entering the military, she attended Kings College to become a medical assistant. Now, she is a logistics specialist and plans to continue working in logistics after her military career ends.
"I chose business administration for my major because it ties with my job in the Navy. I am a logistics specialist, and everywhere around the world has logistics."
Taryn anticipates completing her degree program by 2020. She figures that by the time she transitions out of military life, she will have at least 10 years of work experience in logistics and a college degree, making it easier to find a job in the civilian world, perhaps as a government contractor.
For now, however, life is good for Taryn. She has a satisfying naval career, interesting online studies with great support from Saint Leo – and those magnificent Guam sunsets.
Image credits: Courtesy Taryn Fredericks; US Navy by MC3 Samantha A. Crosson