January 29, 2024 - February 1, 2024
EDUCATION. COMMUNICATION. LEGISLATIVE ADVOCACY.
Council of College and Military Educators (CCME), a not-for-profit organization, was founded almost 50 years ago to promote, encourage, and deliver quality education to service members and their families in all branches of the armed services. Its membership is principally composed of military educators, civilian educators, post-secondary educational institutions, and suppliers of quality education products and services. The CCME symposium is the largest annual forum in the country with an expected attendance of about 1,000 participants. The annual symposium facilitates the networking and interaction of the key leadership across these organizations in an environment that is focused on enhancing and optimizing voluntary education opportunities for the service member and their families.
MESSAGE FROM THE CCME PRESIDENT
Wow- what an amazing symposium we had this year! Thank you to each and every member, attendee, and collaborator for your support.
Reflecting back on the historic symposium we celebrated together just over a month ago, I am humbled and honored to be at the helm of an organization responsible for helping transform the military community’s educational experience. While I am the helm and grateful to be the President of this organization, I could not have pulled off this year’s symposium in the heart of New York City on my own. The CCME board is an outstanding group of dedicated volunteers who are driven to serve our community and ensure that we meet our mission. They worked tirelessly from the end of one symposium to the next to ensure that our members and attendees had the absolute best experience at this year’s symposium. In my view, they nailed it.
Throughout the week we were able to hear from inspirational keynote speakers such as Adam Rocke from Hiring our Heroes, Honorable James D. Rodriguez of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Veterans' Employment and Training Service (VETS), and SEAC Ramón "CZ" Colón-López, Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Speaking about the younger generations propensity and willingness to serve in the military due to today’s epidemic of misinformation, SEAC Colón-López provided us with an important call to action: to err on the side of truth in our efforts and communication with the military community, continue to build opportunities and bridges, and promote experience in synchrony with education.
A pillar of our annual symposiums are the concurrent sessions, and this year’s theme was C.A.R.E., with each letter representing a different session track: C - Compassionate Services, A - Advancing the Cause, R - Reinforce Accountabilities and Expectations, and E - Envisioning the Future. We received a number of fantastic session proposals from our institution and organization partners and were able to select and schedule 47 individual sessions.
Several interactive panels were held throughout the week, the first being a student panel that lifted the voices of four military-affiliated students to discuss their educational experiences as well as provide suggestions to educational organizations to better support their military student populations. A Veteran Service Organization Panel gathered representatives from the American Legion, Student Veterans of America, Veterans Education Project, and Operation College Promise, discussing how their organizations are supporting the military community by advocating and creating opportunities for military education. We had the opportunity to hear from VOLED Service Chiefs from each military branch on the changes that will surely impact us all.
Most exciting, and a first in CCME history, was a panel featuring Senior Enlisted personnel from each service branch. Fielding questions from the audience, the featured panelists held an open forum discussing current issues impacting servicemembers.
Thank you to all of our speakers and panelists for sharing your time, knowledge and passion.
I’d like to give a special shout out and thank you to the remarkable New York City Fire Department (NYFD) Firefighter, Regina Wilson, for performing the National Anthem and to the members of the Navy League Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps (JROTC) Color Guard for the presentation of the colors.
I am immensely proud of what we have been able to accomplish over the last 50 years, but we must not grow complacent. I know the next 50 years of this organization will continue to drive change, equity, and opportunity for our military communities, and I look forward to this future that we will build – together.
See you next year in Aurora, Colorado!