Saint Martin’s University, JBLM and Microsoft to honor second cohort of military students at the Microsoft Software and Systems Academy

May 1, 2014

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LACEY, Wash. – Saint Martin’s University, Joint Base Lewis-McChord and Microsoft will mark the achievement of the second cohort of service members to successfully complete the Microsoft Software and Systems Academy during an Achievement Ceremony Monday, May 5, at 4:30 p.m. The private event will be held at the Stone Education Center, which houses the MSSA as part of the Saint Martin’s Extended Learning Division, and is located at JBLM-Main, 6242 Colorado Avenue.

Bill Kamela, policy counsel at Microsoft, will be the keynote speaker. Other distinguished guests include Colonel H. Charles Hodges, commander of JBLM, Roy F. Heynderickx, Ph. D., president of Saint Martin’s University, and Molly Smith, Ph.D., University provost. Additional Microsoft representatives who are expected to attend the festivities include Sean Kelley, senior staffing director, and Thomas Dawkins, senior product manager.

The ceremony will recognize 17 active duty service members from JBLM who have completed 18 weeks of course work and training for technology careers that include software developers and software testers within companies such as Microsoft. The second cohort includes two Air Force service members and 15 Army service members ranging in rank from Army Specialist to a Major who is also an Apache helicopter pilot. All of the students are guaranteed job interviews with Microsoft.

JBLM introduced the academy in November 2013 and the first cohort of 22 students completed the inaugural program in December. The program aims to help service members make a smooth transition as they leave their military careers and move on to civilian jobs in the technology sector. During their weeks of study, the second cohort received extensive software development training through core computer science courses such as C# and other programming languages, software analysis and design, software testing and Microsoft-led projects.

“The students have completed an equivalent of our minor in computer science – they should be proud of their achievement,” says Radana Dvorak, Ph.D., dean of the Extended Learning Division. “We have been working closely with Thomas Dawkins and his team at Microsoft and now that we are out of the pilot program stages, we are able to deliver a sound curriculum and training that aligns with emerging global workforce needs.”

The Microsoft Software and Systems Academy was inspired by the “VOW to Hire Heroes Act,” which allows service members to begin the employment process before their separation from military service as a bridge from the military to other careers.

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, Ph.D.
Dean, Extended Learning Division

Meg Nugent Dwyer
Media relations manager