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From open seas to open books

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By Shawanda Kinsey / Staff Writer

From a ship to a classroom (Allison Perez / Photo Editor)

By Shawanda Kinsey / Staff Writer

The transition from the stringent life of the Navy to every day student life presents unique challenges.
After nearly 10 years of active duty in the Navy, Tony Albauch is in the process of enrolling in classes at Riverside City College.  
At a very young age Albauch knew he wanted to join the service.
“It’s a family tradition to serve the country,” Albauch said. “My father served our country and I knew since I was little that I would serve my country too.”
While in the Navy he worked in the construction field as a steel worker.  
The skills he learned in the military can be applied to professions in society but because of the plunge in the economy, his best option is to go back to school.
“Many of the skills I learned in the service are not practical because of the downturn of the economy,” he said. “A lot of the skills required for these positions are now computer based and they’re offering lower wages.”  
In order to have more opportunities he has decided to enroll in the air conditioning and refrigeration certificate program.
“My goal is to better educate myself so I can have a better paying job,” he said.
Before his stint in the Navy he received poor grades in school but is now more disciplined and receptive to what he learns.
For Aulbauch the best part of being in the Navy was the people he met.  
“The best part of the service was the camaraderie and long-lasting friendships,” he said as he reminisced about the people he’s befriended. “I can see someone I was in the service with 20 years ago and we can just pick up where we left off.”    
This feeling of fellowship and brotherhood is echoed in the experience of Navy veteran Joe Tracz.  
Tracz describes the Navy as a place where they act, dress, and perform with unity.
“The well being of the whole unit is more important than those of the individual,” he said. “A person’s social status and background don’t matter, all that matters is that they can get the job done and have your back.”
While in the Navy he worked as a demolitionist building, disabling, and loading explosives and aircraft weapons.  
“I really enjoyed my job but it was a lot of work,” Tracz said when describing his philosophy of work in the military. “Work hard, play harder.”
The navy provided Tracz with the education and skills he needed to get his job done. However many of the skills he learned as a military demolitionist does not transition into a typical civilian job.  
Tracz is now pursuing a degree in neurological physical therapy but financial gain is not his only motivation for going to college.  
“I want a better education because I have seen firsthand what happens when you don’t have education,” Tracz said. “My biggest reason for continuing my education is for personal enlightenment.”
For both Tracz and Albauch the training and experiences they received in the service gives them the courage to carry out any assignment they are given here at RCC.
“No matter what I’m assigned here I never have the thought that maybe I can’t do it,” said Tracz ” Because of the things I’ve accomplished in the Navy I know I am capable of accomplishing anything.”

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