College Fair Onboard USS Makin Island 
SAN DIEGO - Engineman 3rd Class Florinda Sevilla speaks to a representative from Southern Illinois University Carbondale during a college fair onboard USS Makin Island (LHD 8) July 26. The fair featured nearly 20 representatives from higher educational institutions and organizations, and was the first college fair held onboard the ship.
Makin Island Holds First Shipboard College Fair 
SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- USS Makin Island (LHD 8) held the command's first shipboard college fair with nearly 20 colleges, universities and educational organizations in attendance July 26.

The purpose of the fair was to help Sailors understand their education benefits and give them an opportunity to meet directly with college representatives.

The fair was also preceded by an educational "power week," where navy counselors conducted briefs on tuition assistance benefits, Navy College and other training opportunities.

"We want the young Sailors to know that this fair is an incentive to help them with their future both in and outside the Navy," said Navy Counselor 1st Class (SW/AW) Debbie Hamlin. "So we made it easy for the Sailors. They don't have to go out to Navy College; we're bringing Navy College to them."

Yeoman Seaman Tiara Rials said she appreciated the convenience of the college fair and found it beneficial to speak with college representatives in person. She also said attending the fair helped motivate her to start taking college classes.

"I have an appointment already with some of the representatives to establish a degree plan and get my ball rolling," Rials said. "Why and start later? You can do it now and be in a better place to do what you want to do when you get out of the military, if that's what you choose."

Navy Counselor 1st Class (SW) Jason Duque said he encourages Sailors to take advantage of as many educational opportunities as they can. "Since we're doing a lot of in-port time between now and deployment, it's a good time for them to go ahead and start taking classes," he said.

Whether or not a Sailor has just graduated boot camp or served for several years, Hamlin said all Sailors should utilize their time in the Navy to pursue an education. "The hardest thing is to start," she said. "But once they start, I'm sure they're going to get that drive."
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