Excelsior College recognizes personal achievements of staff, faculty, and alumni during Women of Achievement Month. Jeannine Mannarino, an alumni of Excelsior College, shares her story about education and dedication. Both helped her earn a degree and start a non-profit.
Excelsior Life: What was your greatest personal achievement?
Mannarino: It was December 23,1980, when I solemnly swore to support and defend the Constitution of the United States by enlisting into the New York Army National Guard. I never realized that I would be launching a career and lifetime commitment to the greatest organization in the world.
As a young child I always felt challenged. I wasn’t a great reader and my math skills were worse. Ever since I can remember, my academic grades were a serious disappointment to everyone in my family, including me. I barely graduated from high school due to my grades. For me, going to college became an even greater challenge.
Joining the National Guard opened up a new world to me. I found out that I learned best through on-the-job training. It allowed me to evolve my skills personally and professionally by learning how to educate myself through hard work and dedication.
Excelsior Life: How did this achievement impact your life?
Mannarino: As my career in the National Guard began to thrive; there was one item that always held me back. I didn’t have a college degree. Although I didn’t need to have one to join the military, you do need a degree to advance in your career and enlisted grades.
It was back in 1983 when Excelsior College (then NYS Regents College) collaborated and partnered with the New York Army National Guard. Through this partnership, I was able to take the 24 credit hours that I earned from a local community college and add it to other accomplishments.
The college assessed my military occupational skills and prior college credits to put me just a few credit hours shy of my associate degree. I had the incentive to complete a degree that I never, ever thought I would attain.
My degree allowed me the opportunity to rise in the ranks as an enlisted soldier and take on even greater challenges. I earned my bachelor’s degree in the year 2000. I also became co-founder of a not for profit 501C3 organization, Patriot Hills of New York TM, Incorporated. Today, Patriot Hills has an educational partnership with Excelsior College and helps with transition, reintegration and therapeutic healing of veterans.