Tina Riley served for 22 years in the United States Air Force. Today she is working as a security programs manager for the United States Department of Defense at the Pentagon. She says that her military background set the path for her current position. “I strived for and earned accolades from my superiors, degrees and military awards, [and the] leadership skills that enabled me to be here today.” In her current position, she is responsible for personnel, physical, and information security.
Riley says that the high points in her career are times when she impacted the careers of Airmen through mentorship and leadership. “Now I affect the career paths of civilians by leadership, guidance, and mentorship. Last, a high point in my current career path is that the people appointed as my supervisors believe that I can do anything! That makes me smile.”
Tina is currently establishing a non-profit organization to help homeless women. She also works in several church ministries in her position as a Pastor’s wife and is a member of a female gospel singing group. She says that it was challenging to embark on her project to help homeless women because she didn’t know where to start. “I [had to overcome] the fear of the unknown as I ventured down the path to create awareness of homeless.”
Tina used the Post 9/11 GI Bill® education benefits to help pay for her education. “It had always been a personal goal to continue my education and after retirement [from the military]. I looked for an institution of higher learning in close proximity to my current job. Argosy University, Washington, DC [gave] me additional tools to put in my tool belt.”
One of those tools is a new view on how to work in the business world. “My experience opened my eyes to how other cultures conduct business. But most importantly, [it] has given me the confidence to see myself leading a non-profit for change and making a difference.” She attributes her success to the school’s faculty and staff, especially Dr. Klinefelter, Dr. Glenn, and Dr. Piellusch. “[They helped me to] understand the curriculum from many different perspectives—not just my perspective. They enabled me to think outside the box which impacted by ability to learn the class materials a bit better.”
Tina believes that her military experience helped her as a student because it allowed her to contribute to discussions and provide a different perspective. “My travel, experience with different cultures, and experiences added to the overall school experience for me and my classmates. Everyone at [the school], like the military, wanted to see us succeed which made the challenges seem [smaller].”
Tina recommends that veterans looking to return to school “just get started. Being in the military, you sacrifice so much for others that you can do something to better yourself by earning a degree.” She says that programs such as the GI Bill® are benefits that veterans should take advantage of. “Most people don't have the option or the opportunity to get money for school, so seize the education dollars while they are still available.”
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