U.S. Air Force veteran finds smooth transition to college life at RELLIS

Kevin Jackson enjoys smaller class sizes, personalized instruction as he pursues his business, finance degrees

Kevin Jackson enjoys smaller class sizes, personalized instruction as he pursues his business, finance degrees

October 14, 2019

Kevin Jackson joined the U.S. Air Force to defend his nation. Now, as a student at RELLIS, he is studying finance so he can help family, friends, and others protect their financial resources.

“I like the idea of protecting assets, which is where I think my focus will end up being,” the first-semester freshman said in the lobby of the Blinn College District’s Walter C. Schwartz Building at the RELLIS Campus. “If you don’t have money and then you come up to a problem, you’re going to have a much harder time solving it. When I was considering potential careers, I just got glued to the idea that if I acquired financial assets then I would be able to protect myself and help others.”

It was in that same spirit that Jackson served seven years and seven months as a joint terminal attack controller in the U.S. Air Force Tactical Air Control Party (TACP). Originally from Tennessee, Jackson considered attending the University of Tennessee as an engineering student. However, he changed his mind after an Air Force recruiter introduced him to the possibilities in the Air Force, including Battlefield Airmen units such as TACP and Combat Control.

Jackson opted to pursue a role with the TACP. As a TACP specialist, he was embedded with U.S. Army units on the frontlines to direct air strikes and provide real-time targeting data to his Army counterparts. To prepare, Jackson underwent intense physical, mental, and technical training to withstand the demanding conditions of battle, including basic military training, the Special Warfare Preparatory Course, the TACP Preparatory Course, and the TACP Apprentice Course at Hurlburt Field, Fla.; Airborne School at Fort Benning, Ga.; Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (SERE) training at Fairchild Air Force Base; and Joint Terminal Attack Controller Course at Las Vegas, Nevada.

Jackson’s service included a nine-month deployment throughout southern Afghanistan. In 2017, he returned to civilian life.

“It was my time to leave the military and I wanted to go to college,” Jackson said. “It was something I had been thinking about for a long time and I just felt like this was going to be the right direction for me to go. Plus, I really like business and finance. In my free time, before I knew what school I was going to go to, I was watching a ton of videos about finance, about how the markets work, market strategy, analyzing the markets, wealth management, and things like that because that’s what  I really like.”

With his girlfriend enrolled in a master’s degree program at Texas A&M University, Jackson moved to College Station and began to explore enrolling at Texas A&M. When he spoke to Texas A&M’s Veterans Services Office, they suggested that he begin his academic career at the RELLIS Academic Alliance a few miles down the road in Bryan, Texas.

“They recommended that I come to RELLIS because this is a good place for a veteran,” Jackson said. “Here, you have smaller classes and you get more of a one-on-one education.”

The RELLIS Campus is the newest model of higher education in Texas, bringing several regional universities and the Blinn College District to one location in Bryan, Texas. Each program at the RELLIS Academic Alliance creates a seamless pathway for students to earn a bachelor’s degree in related fields from a Texas A&M University System regional university. Through the RELLIS Academic Alliance, students can pursue bachelor’s degrees in accounting, biology, business, criminal justice, computer science, communication, finance, health science, management, marketing, nursing, psychology, public administration, and public safety management.

Jackson’s RELLIS Campus journey is beginning with Blinn’s Associate of Science in Business. Once completed, he plans to pursue his bachelor’s degree in finance through either Texas A&M University or Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi’s Bachelor of Business Administration (Finance Major) at RELLIS. Regardless of which university he chooses for his bachelor’s degree, he then plans to pursue his master’s degree in financial management at Texas A&M.

“It just made sense for me to come to a smaller school first because I wanted a beginner’s opportunity in college,” Jackson said. “I didn’t want to jump right into a class of 100 or more people.

“This way you get a one-on-one experience. If I have a question, I can talk to the teacher and get feedback really easily.”

For more information regarding the RELLIS Campus, visit www.blinn.edu/RELLIS. To learn more about the ways in which Blinn can assist active duty service members, veterans, and their families in pursuing their educational goals, visit www.blinn.edu/veteran-services.

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