CHARLESTON, S.C. — Along the shores of the Cooper River, just around the river bend, is a small training complex where the Navy trains its nuclear power students at Nuclear Power Training Unit, Charleston. Senior Chief Electronics Technician (Nuclear) Robert Young trains and mentors students and staff at this training unit.
“Outside of work, I prefer to spend time with my family,” said Young, of Cleveland, Ohio. “But sometimes, I do need to focus on my coursework.”
In his off-duty hours, Young takes classes at U.S. Naval Community College. He takes courses with USNCC’s partner institution, Alexandria Technical & Community College, pursuing an Associate of Science in Nuclear Engineering Technology.
Young has been in the Navy for 18 years, and he said that one of the main reasons he joined the Navy was to get a college degree, “and up until this point, I hadn’t really pursued that at all. I hadn’t found the time.”
Now, he said he’s making it a priority.
Young has four children, and two of them have been taking college courses as well. They were dual enrolled in an English Composition course at their high school. “They were struggling with one of their papers and getting the formatting right,” said Young. “I was able to take the notes that I took from my class, and I was able to let them look over my notes to see how they could do it better.”
For Young, it’s important to balance work, family, and school. Since he works a rotating shift work schedule, it’s also important that the school option has schedule flexibility. “The self-paced thing is really important,” said Young, about the online and asynchronous classes offered through USNCC. “Especially with kids doing extracurricular activities. It’s pretty challenging to balance the time, but the self-paced feature really makes it manageable.”
Young’s daughter plays volleyball and basketball, and his middle son plays soccer and basketball. He is also getting his youngest son into basketball. Young said he wants to keep his kids involved in activities for developing social interaction, teamwork, and discipline skills. While his kids are balancing their education, activities, and home life as well, Young said, “It probably gives them a sense of pride that I am actually completing my degree.”
Each degree program at USNCC includes a Naval Studies Certificate, which is a five-course, 15-credit certificate program focusing on naval-relevant education.
“I’m really looking forward to the naval studies,” said Young about the Naval Studies Certificate. “I feel like having a better understanding of what the rest of the Navy does is really important. As nukes, we tend to lose sight of what everybody else does in the Navy. We’re kind of sheltered from that in a lot of cases. It would be good to have that understanding to broaden our horizons and to get the bigger picture on what the Navy is actually doing.”
Young said his children understand that furthering knowledge is important.
“Pretty much every Sailor that I have talked to, I’ve recommended this program,” said Young. “Pursue your education now. Don’t wait, like me, until the end of your career to further your education.”
The United States Naval Community College is the official community college for the Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard. To get more information about the USNCC, go to www.usncc.edu. Click on the Apply Now link to become a part of the USNCC Pilot II program.