A 10th Mountain Division soldier who graduated over the weekend had the opportunity to give one of the student commencement speeches at SUNY Empire State College.
First Sergeant James Bryant, who is stationed at Fort Drum, was welcomed to the stage with a standing ovation for his service in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait and Korea.
He thanked his mentors, fellow soldiers, family and friends for all their help during his educational journey. Bryant was joined by soldiers from Charlie Company as well as Charlie Company Commander Captain Ryan and Battalion Commander Sergeant Major Williams.
Bryant donned a red, white and blue cord to signify his service to the United States, as did more than 15 other students graduating that day.
Thirty-three students out of the total of 3,300 graduating from Empire State College this year come from the college’s office in the Ft. Drum Education Center, including soldiers, military spouses, veterans and civilians.
Bryant started with the college in the September 2010 term, and completed his first courses while deployed in Afghanistan. Empire State College’s guided independent study format helped provide the flexibility he needed during his deployment, as did the support from faculty and staff back at Ft. Drum, especially when one of his textbooks was destroyed by an improvised explosive device (IED).
Because Bryant had so many transfer credits from other colleges and his military training, he only needed to complete the minimum eight courses at Empire State College before earning his bachelor’s degree in business, management and economics. Bryant benefited from the successful completion of his bachelor’s degree while meeting with the promotion board in late May.
SUNY Empire State College serves more than 400 soldiers, veterans and spouses at its Ft. Drum location and more than 800 in the North Country at various other sites.