PORTLAND, Ore. -- Big opportunities are coming to the Airmen of the 142nd Wing at Portland Air National Guard (PANG) Base.
Wing leadership and the base education center have worked hard over the past two years to make a CLEP (College Level Examination Program) testing center available to Airmen stationed at PANG, as well as other service members living and serving in and around Portland.
The base partnered with Klamath Community College (KCC) to facilitate testing so that Airmen can more easily fulfill the requirements to obtain their Community College of the Air Force (CCAF) or associate degrees.
The now fully functional testing facility, located in the base fitness center, has been made possible through a culmination of efforts from key shops and individuals across the wing.
Prior to this new testing center, the last time CLEP testing was available here was when PANG was shared with a reserve unit before 2006. Without the presence of the Air Force Reserve here, PANG doesn’t meet the population requirement to receive funding for a testing center.
Senior Enlisted Leader of the Oregon Air National Guard’s Joint Domestic Operations Command, and former 142nd Wing Command Chief, Chief Master Sgt. Brent Cavanias, was serving at PANG when the Reserve wing was still present. After their departure, he was made aware of the disparity between the Guard and Reserve when it came to specific resources.
As Cavanias advanced in his career, it became a personal goal for him to effectively bridge the gap for 142nd Wing Airmen, to ensure they had the benefits and resources they were entitled to.
“When I was selected to serve as the 142nd Wing Command Chief, I knew I would never be in a better position to influence quality of life programs,” said Cavanias. “The motivation for me here was to provide as much parity in quality of life and benefits that our Airmen and families deserve.”
When Cavanias left the wing in 2021, he passed the torch to Mission Support Group Senior Enlisted Leader, Chief Master Sgt. Bobbi Kennedy, to see the process through to completion.
Kennedy worked with members across the wing in a combined effort to make the testing center a reality.
Establishing the testing center took significant planning and funds to bring to fruition. Wing leadership had to find alternative ways to fund the center so it could be equipped with testing-ready computers, desks, and commercial internet. Funds came from the RV parking lot fund and the Enlisted Association of the National Guard Oregon (EANGOR).
The testing center became fully functional earlier this month, with the first CLEP tests held before January drill.
Kennedy remarked on the effort of the wing to make this happen for those who serve here.
“I think that everybody that’s worked on this project really just wants to see the success of the Airmen,” said Kennedy. “I’ve been very impressed, and I’ve been very proud of the people that we’re working with to make this happen for us.”
The CLEP testing center is just one component in a larger effort to provide an easier path toward higher education for Airmen.
At the end of this year, the wing is aiming to host college classes on base, taught by KCC instructors, for those interested in earning credits for their CCAF or associate degrees. Classes in English, math, and humanities will be offered.
For Airmen interested in pursuing a bachelor’s degree, the Air University Associate to Baccalaureate Cooperative (AU-ABC) is in place to help Airmen easily segue from their CCAF associate in applied science degree to a bachelor’s degree online through partner schools. In Oregon, these schools are the Oregon Institute of Technology (OIT) and Eastern Oregon University (EOU).
Additionally, Klamath Community College has partnered with OIT and EOU to offer various paths for CCAF graduates to pursue their bachelor’s degrees though the Base to Bachelor’s program.
PANG’s base education and training center is here to help Airmen utilize their benefits and answer any questions they might have about pursuing higher education. 142nd Wing base education and training manager, Master Sgt. Paul Freimark emphasizes the base education and training center as a high value resource for Airmen who want to work towards career progression and development as well as the pursuit of higher education.
“I really envision [our] office being two-fold: one that helps you grow and progress within your military career from an Air Force Specialty Code (AFSC) or Professional Military Education (PME) standpoint,” said Freimark. “The other component of that is to help support individuals in understanding what opportunities they have and guide them along for their higher education, personal and professional.”
With these programs, Airmen can more easily advance in their military and civilian careers through higher education using the benefits they’ve earned through their service to the nation and the state of Oregon.
“Whether you serve one enlistment or are a career Airman, I simply want to see our Airmen enrich and improve their lives through opportunities like this,” said Cavanias.