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Decorated military member advances career while studying online

June 8, 2018

When high-speed Internet opened the doors for working professionals around the country and around the world to earn their degrees, Liberty University led the way in providing online education to thousands, including many of our nation’s service members. Nearly one-third of the Class of 2018 are military members, veterans, or military spouses.

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Rebecca Stillin was one of them. As she traveled the globe on many different assignments, she took her studies with her. In May, she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies with a focus on health sciences and psychology.

Stillin, originally from Michigan, enlisted as a medic in the Air Force in 2013. She served in labor and delivery at Langley Air Force Base (AFB) in Hampton, Va., for about two and a half years. In the fall of 2015, she visited Liberty and decided to enroll.

“I was sold by the beauty of the campus,” Stillin recalled, noting that she liked having the option to attend on campus if she ever decided to leave the military. “The staff were so willing and eager to work with my military commitment, training, and past course work. They even helped me secure some financial support. I literally had no reason to not choose Liberty.”

Stillin was reassigned to Scott AFB in Illinois, where she trained as an Aeromedical Evacuation Technician (AET). She was deployed to Germany, where she helped transport and care for wounded service members, preparing them for the next level of care.

From Germany, Stillin entered Airman Leadership School, a six-week Air Force program that prepares senior airmen for frontline supervisor positions. At the end of the program, Stillin was presented the John L. Levitow Award, the school’s highest honor, given to the graduate with the most outstanding performance evaluations, leadership qualities, and teamwork.

Stillin was promoted to staff sergeant, and when she returned to her AE post, she was named 2017 Airman of the Year for her squadron and the Operations Group.

Currently, Stillin is serving in a one-year position as the administrative assistant to the command senior enlisted leader of U.S. Transportation Command (TRANSCOM), which leads all logistics and mobility for the Department of Defense.

“Since I started at Liberty, I have worked a year of 12-hour night shifts, attended three separate Air Force  schools, moved to a different state, changed jobs three times, deployed once, and traveled to 11 different countries,” Stillin said. “With this lifestyle, it would be difficult to work in college without the understanding of solid faculty and staff. Liberty University has made it possible for me to serve without putting my personal education goals on hold.”

Just one day after graduation, she embarked on yet another adventure — her marriage to U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Mark Underhill.

When her year is up, she plans to return to her AE squad and pursue a master’s degree in education or school counseling through Liberty.

  • Liberty University congratulates all of its military members in the Class of 2018. Thank you for serving our country and protecting our freedoms. Visit Liberty.edu/Military to learn about the many benefits and resources provided through the Office of Military Affairs.

For many graduates who earned their degrees through the university’s online program, Commencement is a doubly meaningful time. The pride of celebrating a milestone achievement is coupled with the magic of setting foot on campus — some for the very first time. These graduates have enjoyed the convenience of studying across the country or overseas without having to uproot their families or careers, and their stories are all woven into the fabric of Liberty’s history.

Read more inspiring stories from the Class of 2018:

Hero, Survivor, Graduate

Mother-daughter duo celebrates graduation after bout with cancer

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