December 2015 marked the next phase in transition from active military to civilian employment for 30 service members and military spouses on Joint Base Lewis-McChord and Camp Pendleton. While their separation dates differ over the next six months, they all share something in common as the first-ever graduates of the Onward to Opportunity (O2O) program – a public-private collaboration launched in Spring 2015 by the U.S. Department of Defense, the Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) at Syracuse University, and The Schultz Family Foundation, founded by Howard and Sheri Schultz.
Having completed a combination of classroom and online training in the areas of customer service excellence and information technology, these first two cohorts of O2O graduates have earned industry-recognized credentials and certifications associated with their field of study. They will now be matched up with industry partners who will be conducting interviews and leveraging this military talent pipeline toward their veteran and spouse hiring goals.
Impressed by their humility, skill and valor, Daniel Pitasky, Executive Director of the Schultz Family Foundation, thanked the graduates for being a part of this developing program and for the contributions they will make in their future careers. “Military bases should be hiring hubs where O2O empowers our military and their families to advance their careers post-service,” stated Pitasky.
“Cultivate your career with the same emotion and effort as you do in the fight,” added Dr. Mike Haynie, Executive Director of the IVMF, who stressed that O2O graduates need to begin thinking about themselves; citing their individual strengths, successes and accomplishments; and moving away from the promotion of team and unit, to which they have grown accustomed. “You are all so much more than your MOS (military occupational specialties).”
When hailing the impact of the O2O program, however, and its vision to support a job-ready transition from military service to the civilian world of work, one need look no further than the graduates themselves.
Joint Base Lewis-McChord Graduates:
Saul Aguayo, Abinaya Ayyamuthu, Ian Baker, David Benbrook, Marcos Castro, Jessica Crawford, Anuj Dhungel, Josue Garcia, Ryan Gaston, Ronald Glenn, Mai Hoang, Jason Jackson, Michael Johnson, James Logan III, Robertson Moreland, Richard Piper, Jelinda Pizarro, Jonathan Ricafrente, Marielba Rolon, Davita Thomas, Daniel Thurmon, Alexander Vicente
Camp Pendleton Graduates:
Samantha Armijo, Clarissa Boening, Folami Fitzgerald, John Gomiller, Zachery Huffman, Kevin Steele, David Taitingfong, Corey Volkman, Jeremiah Wilke