Campbell University, Fayetteville State University, Fayetteville Technical Community College, and Methodist University have come together in a joint effort to form Panther University.

Panther University, which began on March 9, is a weekend college program offered to paratroopers of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, in the 3rd Brigade Special Troops Battalion classroom.

This is the first semester of classes, held from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., on Saturdays, for eight weeks. Panther University is currently conducting a basic composition and history class through Fayetteville State University.

“This is a great opportunity for paratroopers to make a positive difference,” said Veronica Alexander, the representative for FSU.

“Panther University is very convenient, I like how our professors are coming to base,” said Spc. Benny Mason, motor transport operator from Company G, 1st Battalion, 319 Airborne Field Artillery Regiment. “It’s good that the classes provided here will transfer anywhere.”

Mason is pursuing a degree in history with a minor in theatre at Methodist University. “I’d like to utilize the Army Green-to-Gold program and become an officer one day,” he explained.

Pvt. Darryel Purifoy, a cannon crewmember in 1st Battalion, 319th AFAR was not sure if the program would continue due to the Army tuition assistance lock-out. Three paratroopers were locked out of the Panther University courses. However, Methodist University is currently offering free tuition assistance, which will continue until July 15.

“This is a great opportunity for all Soldiers to pursue personal and career progression,” said 1st Sgt. Jean Alcedo, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3rd Bde. Special Troops Bn., 3rd BCT.

Alcedo, who is pursuing a degree in Business Administration at FSU, explained that it is easier for him to attend Panther University as a single parent compared to attending school off post.

Staff Sgt. Brian Freeman, HHC, 3rd BSTB, 3rd BCT, is the brigade’s Panther University representative.

“Our future plans are to provide criminal justice degrees, medical and certification for our mechanics in preparation for the civilian world,” said Freeman.