CLEP-a-thon tester wins the race

by Sara Pavich
86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Education takes time. Students put years and money toward attaining the course credits necessary to earn a degree. In just four days, one Airman became 36 credits closer to earning his Community College of the Air Force degree.

A College-Level Exam-ination Program testing marathon, called CLEP-a-thon, was facilitated by the Ramstein National Test Center Feb. 10 through 14 on Ramstein. From 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., service members were able to take unlimited CLEP and DSST tests in a variety of course subjects. Testers were also able to sign up on a walk-in basis, without the usual need for an appointment. A passing grade allows students to earn a specific number of credits toward their degree.

Airman 1st Class Arius Gray, 83rd Network Operating Squadron Det 4 server technician, was the most successful tester to take part in the CLEP-a-thon. Out of the 12 exams he completed, Gray passed nine. The credits he earned enabled him to satisfy almost all his remaining degree requirements in the span of a few days. If Gray passes his final CLEP test, a speech exam taken at a separate time from the CLEP-a-thon, he will have successfully earned a degree in computer sciences.

Though the outcome justified the stress, Gray said the CLEP-a-thon was mentally exhausting. Gray completed all his exams by Feb. 13, but stayed at the testing center all day every day in order to make himself available for the exams he needed to take.

“It was a little draining,” he said. “At the end of the week it was just a giant sigh of relief. I thought, ‘I’m done with tests for now.’”

Gray chose to participate in the Ramstein CLEP-a-thon in order to complete the remaining credits in his CCAF degree. He said his desire to pursue an education is fueled by his interest in learning more about computers.

“Since my job is to manage servers, pretty much all I do is work with computers all day. The job experience, combined with whatever education I get or any classes I take, goes hand-in-hand, and it helps me do my job that much better.”

Though he did not enter the Air Force with the plan to work in a computer-based field, Gray found the work appeals to his goals to further his education. He said working with computers provides him with a challenging and interesting work environment that requires a constant update of knowledge in the field.

“There’s always something new to learn,” Gray said. “There’s no way to know everything, because technology is constantly advancing, so you have to constantly advance with it. You have to keep current on your credentials.”

Gray’s success stems from his motivation to pursue higher education throughout his life.

“My plan is to keep my education going,” Gray said. “I don’t really want to stop at any point or let myself grow stagnant. From finishing up my CCAF, I’ve given myself an earlier start to a higher education.”

Gray plans on immediately pursuing a bachelor’s degree in computer sciences and eventually hopes to obtain a doctorate, possibly in computer programming.