After graduating from high school, Sgt. 1st Class Claritza Arendt and Maj. (retired) Chris Psaltis each determined that they were not ready for college, so they joined the Army. Their paths in the Army diverged. After several years as Soldiers, both realized the importance of higher education in furthering their Army careers
“The chain of command has always, as a young Soldier, suggested that we attend college and I just wasn’t ready,” said Arendt. “About three years ago, I got married and I had a baby and I decided that … I wanted to show my kids that nothing was impossible.”
Wednesday, Arendt walked across the stage at the Iron Mike Conference Center to receive her Bachelor’s Degree in Public Safety and Emergency Management from Grand Canyon University.
Psaltis was the graduate speaker at the event.
Psaltis graduates this semester with his Doctorate in Educational Leadership from Fayetteville State University, and said that the Army helped push him to where he is today. He used the Fort Bragg Education Center’s programs to receive his associate’s degree and was able to go to Officer Candidate School after graduating with that degree.
He said he then had to go back to school for his bachelor’s degree so that he could get promoted past the rank of captain. He hasn’t slowed down since.
“I tried to take advantage of the opportunities afforded me, even when I was on active duty, and why stop? The Army taught me that and I’m going to keep going until I’m done,” he said.
Arendt is now pursuing her master’s degree and hopes to use her skills to help financially unstable individuals through disasters in the future.
Now, Psaltis and Arendt’s paths have converged, as both currently work as recruiters. They both also emphasize the importance of having a graduation ceremony on Fort Bragg.
“I think it’s important because a lot of students don’t go to schools that are in the immediate area. There are a lot of schools that are online, far away. So to be able to have a ceremony and celebrate in front of their Families ... wow,” said Psaltis.
Arendt concurred. She said it is important to her because she is the first in her Family to graduate college.
“I went in there with a goal, and I was going to go to Arizona to walk there, but I feel more at home walking here,” she said.
For the two graduates, the most important part of the ceremony is Family.
“I know most Soldiers are humble and don’t want to brag about their accomplishments, but it is pretty significant because it’s not just for them,” said Psaltis. “It’s for their Family and their kids to look at and hopefully motivate them to go on.”
Arendt said she was most looking forward to having her son watch her walk across the stage.
“I want him to see I can do it,” said Arendt. “If you set your mind to doing something, there’s nothing that can stop you.”
For more information on the programs available through the Fort Bragg Education Center, call 396-6721 or 908-0927.