'Makin Island University' Kicks Off First NCPACE Semester of Deployment 
By Senior Chief Mass Communication Specialist (SW/AW) Donnie W. Ryan, USS Makin Island (LHD 8) Public Affairs  
USS MAKIN ISLAND, At Sea - Sailors and Marines aboard USS Makin Island (LHD 8) are finding time to work toward college degrees thanks to Makin Island University, the ship's Navy College Program for Afloat College Education (NCPACE) program, that kicked off its first semester of the current deployment, Nov. 29.

This is the fourth semester for Makin Island University, which offered three previous semesters of instruction while the ship was in homeport of San Diego prior to the deployment that began Nov. 14.

NCPACE courses are targeted specifically for shipboard Sailors, with instructors living aboard during long underway periods like the current deployment. The courses are provided by the Navy College Office and tuition is funded entirely by the Navy. Sailors are responsible for additional courses materials such as books and other supplies.

Ensign Ramon Vazquez, Makin Island's educational services officer, said interest in the courses during deployment is high and most classes will be filled to capacity.

"Many Sailors joined the Navy for the educational benefits," said Vazquez. "NCPACE is a good way to go about earning a college degree while on deployment."

Vazquez said the courses currently scheduled for the deployment were selected to help Sailors and Marines meet the general education requirements for most colleges and universities.

"Students must attend class for two hours, three times each week," said Vazquez. "Classes are held in the ship's classroom at different times throughout the day to help with busy work schedules."

Sailors who are currently enrolled said they are glad the ship is giving them the opportunity to earn college credit during the deployment.

"My chain of command is very interested in me bettering myself," said Master-at-Arms 2nd Class Cameron Havard who is assigned to Makin Island's security division. "NCPACE is helping me with the courses I need to complete my general education requirements."

Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class (FMF) Myles Gutierrez, assigned to Makin Island's medical department, said he is also fortunate to have a supportive chain of command when it comes to off duty education.

"I find it very important that Makin Island is offering Sailors a chance to achieve their educational goal that they wouldn't normally have due to our busy schedule," said Gutierrez.

Gutierrez said he plans on take as many NCPACE courses as he is allowed to during the current deployment to get closer to his educational goals.

Commissioned in 2009, Makin Island is named in honor of the World War II raid carried out by Marine Raider Companies A and B, 2nd Raider Battalion on Japanese occupied Makin Island Aug. 17-18, 1942. LHD 8 is the second ship to bear the name "USS Makin Island."
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