Saint Martin’s University and JBLM welcome Congressman Denny Heck to the new Microsoft Software & Systems Academy for military personnel

November 7, 2013

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LACEY, Wash. – U.S. Rep. Denny Heck (WA-10) paid a visit this week to a class at Joint Base Lewis-McChord that is part a new partnership between Microsoft and Saint Martin’s University to provide software development and testing training to Service Members transitioning out of the military.

Heck’s visit follows Microsoft’s announcement on Monday, Nov. 4, of the creation of the Microsoft Software & Systems Academy, which offers a 16-week course to prepare Service Members to acquire the knowledge needed for technology careers such as a developer, applications engineer and IT project manager.

Adjunct professors from Saint Martin’s are teaching the course, which is based on a curriculum provided by Saint Martin’s that meets the job requirements of Microsoft.

Heck was especially interested in hearing feedback from the students about Microsoft’s promise that those in this first cohort who complete the program will be hired into entry-level roles as software testers by either Microsoft or Launch Consulting, the technology consulting firm administering the program.

“How is that impacting your life?” asked Heck as he stood at the front of the classroom to address the class.

Sergeant Jason Keefer stood up from his computer with a ready answer. “The usual transitional programs don’t give us a solid base for the job market. With a program like this, we are a lot better off because it should actually help us to get a job.”

“That makes getting out of the military a lot more stable for us,” added Keefer.

Staff Sergeant Adam Citterbart, a member of the Special Army Forces who is also transitioning out of the military, told the class and Heck that his participation in the program will ensure his ability to provide for his fiancé and the couple’s four young daughters, including a newborn baby. “Being able to get into a career field after my time in the military is awesome.”

Radana Dvorak, Ph.D., dean of the Saint Martin’s Extended Learning Division, which oversees the academy, says she is delighted Heck visited the class. “His appearance and support demonstrates to our men and women in the military that they are being taken seriously when it comes to their being able to get back into the civilian workforce and have a future career.”

Just before he left the classroom, Heck smiled as he issued mock-stern advice to the students: “Get back to work!”

Heck said later, through spokesman Roel A. Van Der Lugt, “This is a fantastic program for our service members transitioning back into civilian life. My hat’s off to those at Saint Martin’s University, Microsoft and Joint Base Lewis-McChord who have worked so hard to bring this project together.”

Saint Martin’s University is an independent four-year, coeducational university located on a wooded campus of more than 300 acres in Lacey, Washington. Established in 1895 by the Catholic Order of Saint Benedict, the University is one of 14 Benedictine colleges and universities in the United States and Canada, and the only one west of the Rocky Mountains. Saint Martin’s University prepares students for successful lives through its 23 majors and seven graduate programs spanning the liberal arts, business, education, nursing and engineering. Saint Martin’s welcomes more than 1,100 undergraduate students and 400 graduate students from many ethnic and religious backgrounds to its Lacey campus, and 300 more undergraduate students to its extension campuses located at Joint Base Lewis-McChord and Centralia College. Visit the Saint Martin’s University website at

For additional information:

Radana Dvorak
Dean, extended learning division

Meg Nugent Dwyer
Media relations manager