Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Sarah Trevino-Corley always knew she would join the military.
Her great-grandmother was part of the Navy's Women’s Reserve (WAVES), where her duties included being a radio operator.
Her great-grandfather, a chief quartermaster in the U.S. Navy, was on the light cruiser USS Phoenix near the Admiral Clarey Bridge during the attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. He recalled being on the bridge wing eating an apple when he saw the bombs being dropped from the sky. His ship, fortunately, was not hit.
Trevino-Corley's first duty station was a guided missile destroyer, the USS Wayne E. Meyer, based in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
“It is very humbling to continue their legacy of service in the Navy,” she said. “Depending on what pier we were moored at, I could always see the USS Arizona memorial along with the markers of all the other ships on battleship row that day in 1941. I know they are both in heaven proudly watching me and protecting me while carrying on their legacy of service.”
A desire to serve
At 23 years old, Trevino-Corley is an instructor at the Naval Academy. Holding that role at a young age has only helped her grow professionally, and she’s found the ability to mentor people gratifying.
“Being young myself, it’s surreal,” she said. “There are people here who are going to be future officers, who are the same age as me. I like to coach people in their lives and help them go down the right path.”
Still, she was in search of more — an opportunity to further develop herself as a person and leader, and to create a better life for herself and her family.
It was her dedication to serving others that led her to pursue a degree in criminology and criminal justice through ASU Online.
“As long as I can remember, I have been interested in how people think, act and respond differently from each other, causing some to break the law and irreparably change families and lives forever,” Trevino-Corley said. “I have always been passionate about standing up for others and bringing peace and justice to those who need it.”
ASU Online offered Trevino-Corley the flexibility to balance military duties and coursework. And as a service member, she was drawn to ASU’s military-friendly culture and abundance of resources at the Pat Tillman Veterans Center.
“It feels very connected, and I appreciate the outreach they have for the military,” Trevino-Corley said. “I appreciated how ASU applies any applicable credits from our Joint Services Transcript towards our degree so our unique life experience counts towards our education.”
In good company
The connection to and support for military students is something former Air Force Staff Sgt. Jacquelyn Kristen Craig also appreciated, as well as the vast amount of degree options offered by ASU Online.
For years, Craig wanted to earn her master's degree but never found the right school or program until another military colleague mentioned ASU Online.
“I love learning about other countries' issues, cultures and religions,” Craig said. “I always found my passion in government relations, but specifically, other nations and how their governments and militaries work.”
While enlisted, she found the online global security degree program, and it was everything she was looking for.
“Shortly after I was accepted to start my master’s degree at ASU, I found out I was deploying,” Craig said. “I did most of my master’s degree while I was deployed in the Middle East, which was great because it was online. I was able to work on my degree program while deployed, and I think that was the best thing about it.”
Craig’s active service ended earlier this year and she has transitioned into her new normal with her husband and young daughter.
Using the skills from her military service and her ASU degree, she now works as an emergency management director in South Carolina. She is grateful for the GI Bill and has no regrets about returning to college to earn her degree.
Like Trevino-Corley, Craig wanted to augment her ability to succeed, inside or outside of the military, and knew furthering her education was the way she would be able to accomplish her goal.
“College, even online college, helped me find out who I was, where I wanted to be and where I wanted to go,” Craig said. “I was able to grow my confidence with schooling, and the best part of it all was it was free.”
ASU Online equips every student with a success coach and an advisor to support them and help them navigate roadblocks that may prevent them from succeeding through graduation. And since service members have the challenge of balancing their military duties, personal lives and coursework, military-focused success coaches are on hand to support military-affiliated students in tailoring an educational path centered on their unique background.
“I felt like everyone took care of me at ASU Online,” Craig said. “My advisor was really great. She helped me a lot with the classes that I needed to make sure I was on a good path to graduate when I wanted to because I was using my GI Bill.”
As someone who had to juggle it all, she recommends an online program to all her military friends, especially her military moms.
“ASU made the process easy,” she said. “I didn’t have to do anything. Veterans Affairs took care of the payments, and ASU took care of the classes I needed to take. I just had to show up.”
Inspiration and support has also come from friends and family.
“My biggest inspiration is my wife, Olivia,” Trevino-Corley said. “She has always supported me, been there for me, pushed me to be better and reminded me who I was when I needed it most. She is my best friend and my soulmate, and I’m thankful for her support, especially as a military spouse.”
And on the days when throwing in the towel feels like the only option, Craig tells others to keep going.
“You can and will do great things inside or outside of the military,” she said. “Broadening your education and learning more will only help you go further in life.”
From one military member to another, the advice is a shared sentiment.
“I would highly recommend to any veteran or current military member to pursue their degree,” Trevino-Corley said. “The military services have been and will always be there, but there will come a day when you separate or retire. It’s imperative you invest in yourself and set yourself up for success.”
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