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Carroll Community College graduate turned her military training into college credit

PFC Secret Crushong will receive her Carroll Community College degree this semester after earning credits for training she completed for the U.S. Army.
PFC Secret Crushong will receive her Carroll Community College degree this semester after earning credits for training she completed for the U.S. Army. (Courtesy Photo)

Though Secret Crushong is a member of Carroll Community College’s Class of 2020, you can’t find her around Westminster these days.

As a private first class in the U.S. Army who works as a chemical, biological radiological nuclear specialist, she is currently stationed at Fort Wainwright in Fairbanks, Alaska.

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She started at Carroll Community after graduating from Francis Scott Key High School. She wanted to continue school, but going to a four-year university wasn’t an option at that time. Carroll was close by.

She graduates with an associate degree in arts and sciences. Her classes were a chance to find out what she was good at and what she liked.

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For others looking to go from college to the military, she said, “It’s a great idea to do your two years in community college before you go because you get so much life experience. I do commend the people that go straight out of high school into the military. I know that I wasn’t ... personally I wasn’t ready to do it. But I feel like taking extra time after high school before going in, and also taking the time to explore your interests, it helped me a lot.”

“The science classes that I took there piqued an interest in me,” she said.

Those classes drew her to apply for her current job. As a a chemical, biological radiological nuclear specialist, her job is to train others how to respond to those hazards, like the proper way to wear protective gear and decontaminate equipment.

Those are not normal aspects of modern warfare, she said, and, “Hopefully they never, ever need us.”

The classes she took to train for the job in the army were converted to college credits through a joint services transcript. Those were enough for Crushong to complete her degree. After the intensity of some of that training, she was happy to get college credit for it.

“Because I knew how to be a student after spending time at community college, I was able to come third in my class. That was pretty cool,” she said.

Lynda Swanson, administrative associate int the President’s Office, said Crushong is the type of person with a sweet personality but a tough determination that keeps her going even through setbacks.

“She doesn’t let things stop her,” Swanson said. “She doesn’t even realize how strong she is.”

Secret Crushong, center, is pictured with her colleagues from Carroll Community College's fitness center.
Secret Crushong, center, is pictured with her colleagues from Carroll Community College's fitness center. (Courtesy Photo)

Crushong started working at Carroll’s fitness center in 2017 and was close with her colleagues and the students she worked with. Some of the workouts even helped her prepare for boot camp.

“Working in the fitness center was really cool because it gave me a new perspective on the school itself,” she said, "because I wasn’t just a student. I was also an employee. "

Linda Brandt, who is the administrative associate for Social Sciences & Health and Exercise, worked alongside Crushong when she was a fitness center employee.

Brandt describes Crushong as dependable, always on-time and happy to be at work.

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“She knew how to stay calm in any kind of a situation. She wasn’t excitable or anything. When something went wrong, or if one of the students got hurt at the gym, she jumped right in, take care of it and she knew the right protocols, who to call, and all the paperwork," Brandt said. "One of the qualities of her is her dependability and her calmness.”

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