Like most people, Victor Almodovar wanted to accomplish the goal of earning his college degree. He was a Puerto Rican American with very little knowledge of the English language and needed to advance his education not only to improve his standing within the U.S. Navy, but also to benefit his future. In 2015, he earned a Bachelor of Science in Liberal Arts from Excelsior College, becoming the first person in his family to earn a college degree. He followed up that degree with a Master of Science in Management, which he earned in 2020.

As a child, Almodovar, now of Chesapeake, Virginia, grew up playing baseball in Puerto Rico and did not think higher education was in his future. As the second oldest of five brothers, he had other responsibilities and his mother couldn’t afford the expense. In 1989, at 17 years old, he decided to join the Navy as a way to improve his career prospects. He started as an ABE, an Aviation Boatswain’s Mate, preparing catapult and arresting gear systems for planes before take-off and after landing, and only intended to stay for four years. Instead, he took the Aviation Ordnance Advancement Test, a test required for sailors to be promoted in rank, and he has been doing that for 29 of his 31 years of active-duty service.

Joining the Navy allowed Almodovar to learn English because he became fully immersed in the language. “During the 10 weeks at NRTC Orlando (boot camp), it took me a few moments of high stress and being afraid of failing to push myself harder to listen and speak, allowing me to understand the information given more clearly,” he says. Over time, Almodovar began to pick up English more easily and that led him to decide to pursue a degree. READ MORE