On-Site Classes at Fort Eustis a Perfect Fit For Retiree | Thomas Nelson Community College

On-Site Classes at Fort Eustis a Perfect Fit For Retiree

February 8, 2019

William Hunter was at an academic crossroads. The retired National Guard noncommissioned officer and longtime Newport News Shipbuilding employee has been working toward a bachelor’s in electrical engineering for several years, taking classes at Thomas Nelson that could transfer into his degree program at Old Dominion University.

But last year, as he planned his academic schedule for the summer and fall, Hunter couldn’t find any courses at Thomas Nelson that could be applied to his bachelor’s degree.  

“I didn’t want to sit out for a semester and not take any classes,” he explained.  So, Hunter began looking at other options and discovered the Cyber-Security for Local Area Networks (LAN) at Fort Eustis. 

 “There’s a drastic need for individuals with those skills and training,” and believing the program would “only make me better.”  

Hunter enrolled in three classes for only 16 weeks taught on-base at the Fort Eustis Education Center. Not only does the program confer nine hours of academic credit—which can be applied toward various degree programs—it also helps students prepare for a pair of essential information technology (IT) certifications, Network + and Security +.

“Fort Eustis is actually closer to my home than the main campus,” he explained.  And since the courses were taught in a hybrid format, he spent only one night a week in the classroom; all other instruction was provided on-line.    

Hunter also had high praise for his instructor, Lloyd Decker. “He is very talented; not only does he have a physics degree and a computer science degree, he actually works in the field and has an IT background.  He spoke from real-world experience; Mr. Decker kept us on task and had great lectures.  If you want to know IT and security, he is your man.”  

As he advanced through the program, Hunter discovered his own background provided excellent preparation for the three-course career studies certificate (CSC).  During his two decades in the National Guard, which included a tour in Iraq, Hunter served as a signals support systems specialist.  “We were responsible for the set up and maintenance of communications networks, including computers, switches, routers, antennas and various systems.”  He said the course work from Thomas Nelson meshed nicely with the hands-on experience he gained in the military and at the shipyard, where he has worked as a marine electrician to his current job as an electrical planner.  

With the CSC under his belt, Hunter will continue working toward his engineering degree.  But he will also apply the knowledge and skills gained in cyber-security program. He plans to take the Network + and Security + certifications in the near future, “while the information is still fresh in my mind.”  

“The marketability in cyber is huge. I think the skills we learned would definitely help a student with employment in the cyber-security field.” 

Gary Pounder, Director of Contract Credit and Military Affairs for Thomas Nelson says Thomas Nelson will continue offering the cyber-security career studies certificate at Fort Eustis. The program is open to all students, even those who do not have a military affiliation. 

“Through our partnership with the base, we can secure a long-term pass for students who need base access,” he explained.  Our classroom may be located at Fort Eustis, but this program is open to anyone who wants to start—or continue—their cyber education.  

For more information on the cyber career studies certificate at Fort Eustis, visit tncc.edu/military, or call (757) 825-2938 or e-mail pounderg@tncc.edu.