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AFELA helps 50th SCS NCO achieve dream

Schriever Air Force Base, Colo. -- The Air Force Educational Leave of Absence program helped an NCO with the 50th Space Squadron here achieve a lifelong dream.

Staff Sgt. Victor Salvador, one of the first Airmen to graduate under the AFELA program, he received a bachelor’s degree with honors in electrical engineering May 26.

When Sergeant Salvador first looked into attending school full-time, the Bootstrap program was the only program available. The Air Force replaced Bootstrap with AFELA in 2002, but because of the transition, Sergeant Salvador was unable to enter the program at the time.

Discouraged, he nonetheless moved forward and enrolled in night classes during off-duty hours.

He faced a struggle in completing the courses, as many of his shifts were 12 hours long, said his wife, Connie Salvador.

Sergeant Salvador learned about AFELA while stationed in South Korea in 2002.

“The minute he returned onto American soil that December, he headed straight to the education office to take advantage of the program,” Mrs. Salvador said.

Sergeant Salvador qualified for the program and began working toward his electrical engineering degree full-time in spring 2003. Concerns about losing food and housing allowances could have been an issue but did not hold Sergeant Salvador back, said Lisa Simon, an education specialist with the Peterson Air Force Base Education Office.

“He and his family were determined to achieve this goal, even if it meant some sacrifices,” Ms. Simon said.

The AFELA program allows Airmen to attend college for up to two years while remaining on active duty. Airmen who cannot complete a degree through an off-duty education program or with an educational deferment may apply. In return for selection under AFELA, Airmen must extend their active-duty service commitment.

Editor’s Note: For information on AFELA and other Air Force education programs, contact your base education office.