When we think of military training, we don't always picture men and women in uniform in a college setting. But for U.S. Army Sergeant First Class Tearle Wright, getting a college education has been part of his military experience practically from the beginning, and UMUC has been there at every turn.

"One of the things the military does well is press for education," said Wright. "I started with UMUC when I got to my first duty station in Germany fresh out of high school."

Wright began his college career with UMUC in 1998, pursuing a bachelor's degree in business administration. "I wanted to learn more about business," said Wright, "and I wanted a degree from a recognized institution, so I went with UMUC and just stuck with it."

Currently stationed in Kuwait, Wright's 20-year Army career has taken him to multiple cities in Germany as well as several stateside locations, including Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington, Fort Jackson in South Carolina, and Fort Detrick and Fort Meade in Maryland.

"Everywhere I went, UMUC was there. Every rep, every counselor, all the professors―they've been great. I've never had a negative experience," he said.

Today, Wright manages the human resources operations for his command (about 500 people), supervising five junior leaders and three junior soldiers. Wright's office also provides administrative support and ID cards for the entire installation (about 14,000 people).

"I'm the leader of that office, and I think leading is more than just being in charge," said Wright. "It has to do with being an example. And this degree is an example to others of how important an education is. All my soldiers are now enrolled in college."

Of course, Wright's example is not just for the benefit of his soldiers.

"I have a 10-year-old daughter and a 15-year-old son, and I wanted them to see that education didn't stop after high school," said Wright. "I am now the first in my whole family line to have a college degree."

With only a few months to go until he's eligible for retirement and having completed an academic career that began in 1998, Wright recalls the sense of pride and accomplishment he felt when he received his degree at last.

"It was a huge relief when I crossed that stage," said Wright. "That was a burden lifted and an accomplishment achieved!"