CASCOM NCO

FORT LEE, VA (Feb. 3, 2011) -Five months of after-duty study have netted more than a course certificate of completion for one Fort Lee noncommissioned officer ... she was also proclaimed the class valedictorian.

Staff Sgt. Fransanda Parker, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, Combined Arms Support Command, achieved the highest student ranking during a Petersburg Continuing Education Nurses' Aide Course that concluded in mid-January.

"It was a long, tough and hectic five months," said Parker, alluding to the fact that her studies were in addition to her duties as a full-time Soldier, a homemaker and the mother of two teenage boys. "Nobody was more surprised than I was when I was named the course valedictorian. I guess it just shows that you can achieve anything if you have the desire and dedication to make it work."

Parker said she "feels blessed" to be part of an organization that encourages Soldiers to pursue their interests and to get all the education they possibly can.

"Time and mission requirements in HHC can be really tight," the staff sergeant noted, "but if any kind of education is involved, our first sergeant always finds a way to make it work - it's kind of his thing."

Completion of the nurses' aide course puts Parker one step closer to her future career goals. She said she has always been interested in the field of medicine and nursing and feels best about herself when she is "giving back." She hopes the nursing certification she earned can be put to use in the seven years she has remaining in the Army and afterward when she returns to the "civilian world."

HHC's 1st Sgt. Laderek Green said he is "in no way surprised" by Parker's recent achievement. "She is a first-rate, squared-away NCO who succeeds and excels in anything she attempts," he said.

Green also wants her achievement to be an inspiration to others.

"The way I see it, education is a life-long process," he said. "If we don't allow our Soldiers every educational opportunity, we are not only doing them a disservice, we are also short-changing the Army."