Alexandrea G. Pimentel
New England Institute of Technology
Area of Study: Mechanical Engineering Technology
Military Branch: U.S. Navy
Years Served: 6
Highest Pay Grade: E5
Tell us about yourself:
My name is Alexandrea Pimentel and I am 28 years old. I am a personal trainer, group fitness instructor, and also an undergraduate college student. I served in the U.S. Navy for six years and really enjoyed my time in the military. Currently, I am taking the time to continue my undergraduate education by studying Mechanical Engineering and Visual Art at Brown University. Prior to enrolling at Brown, I earned an Associate in Science degree in Mechanical Engineering at New England Institute of Technology (NEIT), which provided me with the strong foundation needed to handle the demands of my current program. Some of my personal interests include space exploration and understanding the effects of microgravity and the role that it plays on the human body. I enjoy being active and many of my hobbies involve exercising, such as hiking, kayaking, camping, and traveling. I hope to combine all of my interests and education to make a difference by advancing our abilities to safely send humans to explore space farther than ever before.
What prompted you to return to school?
After completing six years in the U.S. Navy, I decided that I wanted to continue working the same mission that I was involved with prior to separation. This meant that instead of moving to a new duty station every three years, I could continue on the same team, working the same job, but just as a civilian. I wanted to become an expert, opposed to just an apprentice. However, during the time that I was separating from the U.S. Navy, the government underwent sequestration, and big budget cuts were being implemented throughout the Department of Defense. There was a government-hiring freeze and many federal workers were obligated to take time off of work to accommodate these financial challenges. Returning to college was initially low on my priority list, but it soon became the most feasible option. After committing to this new academic path, I decided to return to college.
Why did you choose the New England Institute of Technology?
I chose to enroll at New England Institute of Technology for a number of reasons. First, the quarterly vs. semester starts meant that I could begin taking classes in a timely manner. Another reason NEIT stood out to me was because of the design of its curriculum. All of the classes offered are hands-on and have practical application. Students receive lectures from instructors who actually work or have worked in the field in which they teach. This is a great resource for students because these instructors are able to give real-life examples of the material being covered in the course and provide a link to future networking opportunities. Many classes are project-based, which allows students the opportunity to take creative control over their learning. While there are still quizzes and exams, the main focus of the classes is to apply the concepts taught in lectures which culminate in an effective final project.
What military education benefits, such as the GI Bill, did you use?
At New England Institute of Technology, I used the GI Bill and Yellow Ribbon benefits. Along with these educational benefits, I also have access to the Veteran Affairs health benefits, which covers most health and medical expenses if needed.
What has your experience been like as a student?
My experience as a student at NEIT was great! I was able to learn many aspects of Mechanical Engineering Technology in a way that was both fun and educational. I found myself learning through practice. The evening classes are held once a week, but they are long enough to provide lectures for instruction, problem sets for practice, homework for mastery, and projects for application. As a NEIT graduate, I was afforded the opportunity to transfer to Brown University to complete my Bachelor of Science degree.
Did you face any challenges adjusting to student life?
My military experience prepared me well for a smooth transition to college life at NEIT.
Do you feel like your time in the military made you a better student?
Yes, the military has prepared me to manage a structured agenda both intelligently and effectively.
What advice could you offer to other veterans choosing to pursue an education?
My advice to veterans returning to college is to find one that suits your learning style. There are many colleges and universities to choose from, and you will get the most out of your learning experience at a school in which you can thrive.
New England Institute of Technology is a perfect university for veterans interested in higher education! It is a seamless transition from the military for numerous reasons. In the military, I worked as a technician, which had similar training to NEIT’s programs. Another reason is that the university is oriented toward adults: many classes are offered in the evenings, the workload is comprehensive and manageable, the instructors are professionals in their fields, and there is a direct application to the material that is covered in class and the skills needed to be successful in industry. Lastly, NEIT’s Bachelor of Science degree programs are designed to be completed in three years, which is similar to the length of a single duty station in the military.