Value of Education: The Direct Impact Education has on Mission Success

23 May 2023

From Chief Mass Communication Specialist Xander Gamble

Petty Officer 1st Class Jordayna Miller uses the knowledge gained from her education in the United States Naval Community College's nuclear engineering technology degree program to better train the Sailors she instructs in the nuclear power program.

CHARLESTON, S.C. — “The different teaching styles kind of reflect also how we teach here,” said Machinist’s Mate 1st Class Petty Officer Jordayna Miller, a nuclear-qualified staff instructor at the Nuclear Power Training Unit, Charleston, and a student with U.S. Naval Community College. “You can’t have just one teaching method. You have to find the one that works best for you and the one that works best for your students.”

Miller, of Savusavu, Vanua Levu, Fiji, has been in the Navy less than nine years and teaches Sailors in the Navy nuclear training program how to safely operate a nuclear reactor “so that when they go out to the fleet, whether it’s a sub or a carrier, they won’t break things or hurt anybody, and they can keep their ships going.”

USNCC’s Associate of Science in Nuclear Engineering Technology program is taught in partnership with Alexandria Technical & Community College. The degree program comprises both 8-week and 16-week courses to allow students the flexibility to take five courses a year while also providing the time needed to learn the material in more rigorous courses, such as calculus.

When Miller started her intercultural communication course in the fall of 2022, she was halfway through her calculus course. She said in her communication course that she had been reading about different cultures and realized the Navy is its own culture. “It’s sort of a melting pot,” she said,” of people all over, whether it’s different parts of the world or even different parts of the country.” She said the ability to see different behaviors and nonverbal communication cues, “effectively helps you effectively teach them in a way that they’re more likely to respond to, so that they are going to better absorb that material from you.”

“This direct application of the material learned in the classroom is seen in our Sailors and Marines each day,” said Sgt. Maj. Mike Hensley, USNCC’s command senior enlisted leader. “Educating our enlisted service members has direct and regular contributions to command missions, which enhances warfighting readiness and improves operational capabilities.”

The nuclear engineering technology program has 100 students currently enrolled, with some of those students projected to complete their associate degree with the USNCC by the end of 2023. USNCC is planning to expand this program with more students in the program by October, providing more opportunities for Sailors and Marines interested in pursuing a degree in nuclear engineering technology. Those who graduate from the program are able to transfer their degree with little to no loss of credits into the Bachelor’s of Science in Nuclear Energy Engineering Technology, an ABET-accredited degree through Thomas Edison State University. 

Miller works on her homework with a friend that works the same shift she does. “We actually do our work sometimes, or bring in our notes, or we’ll bring in homework questions and discuss them,” she said. “We’re basically taking our online course and bringing it almost to a classroom setting for ourselves so that we are more successful.”

According to USNCC’s Tolanda Tyler, Ph.D., learning requires multiple exposures to the information to increase the likelihood it will be retained. “A single source of information can limit your ability to capture a world of knowledge; therefore, embrace the diversity of multiple perspectives filling your toolbox with endless information and opportunity.”

Miller and her friend use three types of studying when they work together. First, they read the material. Second, they review any lecture videos and take notes. Third, they bring their notes together to compare and contrast their understanding of concepts and topics. “Some things he might have a better understanding of; some things I might have a better understanding of,” she said. “But that collaboration makes it better for us to internalize the information and have it imprinted into our long-term memories.”

After Miller and her friend ended up on different schedules, he ended up using the school’s tutoring services, which helped him grasp the concepts he was unable to understand on his own. Miller said she also plans to use the tutoring services to prepare for her final exams. She said, “Just having them available 24/7 is really helpful when you’re on rotating shift work like we are.”

When her students see her homework or notes, Miller says she advocates for her students to sign up when they finish their nuclear training program. “I want them to be as informed as they can be leaving here,” she said. “I basically equip them to make better careers for themselves.”

Miller said she is enjoying being a student. “It’s a little stressful,” she said, “but it’s the good kind of stress.”

To learn more about the nuclear engineering technology program, go to

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 Click on the Apply Now link to become a part of the USNCC Pilot II program.

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