U.S. Air Force airmen continue college education

MERIDIAN, Miss--(WTOK) Some local airmen were a part of a graduation ceremony at Key Field. More than 50 airmen were recognized for having completed a degree with the Community College of the Air Force.

Among the graduates were Chief Master Sergeant Gary Sanford who said the ceremony closed a chapter in his life he started 30 years a go.

"I actually dropped out after one semester. I always wanted to go back and continue my education. My daughter and I started college the same semester the same year. She is finishing this spring at Mississippi State with a degree. I finished my Community College Air Force degree. It completes a journey for me but it started a journey for her and I together," said Sanford.

Gary's daughter, Katie Sanford believes it was their rivalry that kept her focused in college. "There was definitely a little competition going on. He beat me and I beat him. I think that's what made it fun. That's what helped him to push through. It's what helped me to push through my schooling too. Just to see him was and inspiration for me to keep going and not give up," said Sanford.

Colonel Billy Nabors said this type of achievement equips the graduates with better job skills, making them even more valuable to the Air Force and to the community.

"They go to back to school and they are learn what the latest information is in the community. About how they can help defend the nation and how they can continue to support troops overseas," said Nabors.

When Gary went back to school, he said he was older than most of his peers. Sanford said he wants to be an example to other adults who want to further their education. He hopes to show them how they can balance school, a career, and family.

"I had to set an example to the younger students in the class, by completing my assignments on time. And doing what I needed to do to complete mine but also challenge them," said Sanford.