Vet-to-Vet Wisdom

Juventino GaytanJuventino Gaytan: "Join the VFW"

Juventino Gaytan, Jr. of San Diego, a machinist mate, after separating from the Navy heard news about the education partnership between the Department of California Veterans of Foreign Wars and Excelsior College in January 2012. He was one of the first to contact the College about enrolling under the partnership and joined the VFW the following month.

"The best advice I can offer any Californian in the nuclear Navy who wants to finish their education is to join the VFW, enroll at Excelsior, and finish their education. Joining the VFW allows you the opportunity to help your fellow veteran as well as providing a reduced tuition benefit with Excelsior College," Gaytan explained.

Gaytan previously attended University of California Santa Cruz for two years and then decide to enter the U.S. Navy in 2002. While in the Navy, he continued his education taking classes working toward a nuclear power degree, and always keeping in mind his goal of obtaining a bachelor's degree. Gaytan added, "Earning a bachelor's degree is going to allow me to continue my educational goals of pursuing a post-graduate degree and coupled with my military and current work experience will also provide a well rounded degree of experience, education and service that any employer will certainly benefit."

Currently, Juventino Gaytan works for Life Cycle Engineering as an office manager and also as an independent tax preparer and notary finds distance learning a benefit. "Without a doubt, online and distance learning were the most convenient method for my degree progression. The online format provided by Excelsior has been invaluable because it allowed me to start classes several times a year and many courses are offered in an expedited 8-week format vice the traditional 15-week format. The 8-week format was especially beneficial when I needed to take a general education course and I felt comfortable with the material and just wanted to get the course completed quickly. The benefit of the 15-week format has been extremely helpful in my current Calculus II course because the material is being presented at a more traditional pace where I can take more time to absorb and process all that I'm learning."

In regards to the quality of his classes at Excelsior College, Gaytan adds, "The education I have received at Excelsior is top-notch. Many of the professors at Excelsior are at the top of their fields of study as well as have other jobs that give them a unique perspective into whatever course they're teaching. For example, one of my professors at Excelsior is the training director for the San Onofre Nuclear Generation Station as well as teaches nuclear courses at UC Berkeley. Other professors have taught for decades in their respective fields. This proves to me that the education I'm receiving at Excelsior is a sound and valuable education."

Juventino Gaytan had one hiccup in his education in June 2011; he was taking classes and needed to have surgery. He felt that while he recuperated, he would be able to keep up with his course load. It proved to be too much and he was unsuccessful in completing two of his classes. "Failing these two courses was a blow to my ego because I was always good at school. It was a very humbling experience and I learned a whole lot from failing." The lesson Gaytan learned was what his limitations were and what he needed to do in the future to pass those two courses as well as other courses he was yet to take, having realistic goals and good time management.

Juventino Gaytan will take his final course in the spring of 2013 in Integrated Technology Assessment and he plans to participate in the Excelsior College graduation ceremony in July of 2013 in Albany, NY. His parting words to other VFW members considering going to college, "In order to be successful at Excelsior or any college whether it be a brick and mortar college or a virtual classroom, you have to put time and effort into your homework."

Juventino Gaytan, Jr., Navy veteran

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