Education fair gives Soldiers options

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Wally Meyer, director of entrepreneurship programs at the University of Kansas, speaks with Spc. Logan White- Granziano, Dental Activity, at the Informational Education Fair Aug. 3 at Riley’s Conference Center.

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Fort Riley Educations Services hosted an Informational Education Fair Aug. 3 at Riley’s Conference Center. The event was open to the public and featured more than 20 colleges, career skills programs and financial aid assistance.

Survey allows post community to refine event for future

It wasn’t that long ago when retired Sgt. 1st Class David John found himself in the shoes of other Fort Riley Soldiers who attended the Informational Education Fair Aug. 3 at Riley’s Conference Center.

After attending the November 2016 Hiring and Education fair hosted by Fort Riley Education Services, John accepted a full-time position with Salina Area Technical College in Salina, Kansas, as a commercial truck driving instructor. He was able to begin working with them 180 days before his official retirement date through transition programs like Soldier for Life - Transition Assistance Program or USO Pathfinder.

“There are so many options out there,” he said. “Now that I’m on this side, I’m trying to get information out about what the community has for these Soldiers. Soldiers don’t know what they have. If I don’t know what’s out there, what kind of questions can I ask? Events like this allow vendors to come in and say this is what our community has for Soldiers.”

Monica Smith, education specialist with Fort Riley Education Services, said the fair was important for the community.

“The intent of the fair is to find out what programs are the most viable for Soldiers on post, what they feel is most interesting to them,” she said.

Spc. Logan White- Granziano, Dental Activity, was one of the many Soldiers in attendance. He said he didn’t originally intend to come to the fair, but was encouraged by his noncommissioned officer. As a dental assistant, he was looking at what was offered in the medical field, but also discovering business opportunities.

“I’m just exploring any possibility,” he said. “I think a lot of people don’t even know they exist … a lot of people don’t know where the education center is let alone what they offer. If you search Fort Riley education opportunities, what you will find isn’t as detailed as what they can offer. It gives you a chance to further your life.”

More than 20 colleges were in attendance at the fair along with career skills program representatives and financial aid counseling. This included the nine on post partnered colleges, as well as colleges within a 60-mile radius.

Smith said the surveys are a continuation of the needs assessment survey that was conducted in April and May to determine what programs Soldiers and families would like offered to them.

“We want to see some additional feedback about what Soldiers would like to see,” she said.

Smith said education services can connect any eligible Department of Defense ID cardholders with any school in the area that offers the degree or certification they are looking for.

Financial aid workshops are available once a month and a financial aid advisor is available by appointment.

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