Four Keesler NCO's selected to nurse commissioning program

  • Published
  • By Steve Pivnick
  • 81st Medical Group Public Affairs
Four Keesler NCOs were selected June 13 to participate in the Nurse Enlisted Commissioning Program.

They are Staff Sgts. Thomas Oliver, 334th Training Squadron; and Joana Trotti, 81st Dental Squadron; Tech. Sgt. Rachel Chiartano, 81st Surgical Operations Squadron; and Master Sgt. Marisa Guzman, 81st Medical Support Squadron.

All will attend nursing school for two years and be commissioned as second lieutenants in the Air Force upon graduation and successful completion of their nursing licensing boards. They will then attend six weeks of Commissioned Officer Training at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala., followed by the 11-week Nurse Transition Program before being assigned to their permanent duty stations.

Oliver, an air traffic control instructor, had applied a year ago, but his career field wouldn't release him at the time because his specialty was undermanned.

"I reapplied this year, was allowed to proceed and here I am," he said.

When his commander informed him of his selection he was both excited and relieved. "The NECP process takes time and commitment. It took almost four years for my goal to reach fruition."

Oliver, from Satellite Beach, Fla., has been in the Air Force almost eight years, the past two at Keesler. He has been pursuing his education since becoming a rated air traffic controller seven years ago. He earned a bachelor of science degree in professional aeronautics from Embry Riddle University and also has two applied science degrees from the Community College of the Air Force.

He will attend the University of Southern Mississippi School of Nursing.

Trotti said she had applied to the USM School of Nursing in November and the NECP in April and was excited when she found out she was accepted.

She said she has been going to school off and on since 2004 and will start classes at the USM School of Nursing Gulf Coast Campus Aug. 21 with a June 2014 graduation date.
The Miami native has been in the Air Force for 10 years, more than four years at Keesler. She also has had assignments to Grand Forks AFB, N.D., and Misawa Air Base, Japan.
Trotti urges others who might want to follow in her footsteps to "be positive, work hard and, if I can do it as a single parent away from my family, anyone that really wants to get into nursing can do it!"

Chiartano said she had applied for the NECP this past March; the application deadline was late April. She learned of her selection from her squadron commander, Col. (Dr.) Joseph Giovannini.

"He called me after work and notified me. I was ecstatic. Actually, I was speechless; I felt like an idiot because I didn't have much to say! I think I am still in shock."

Chiartano has been taking night classes for about six years.

"My original plan was to obtain a bachelors degree in criminal justice. My job as a physical therapy assistant requires me to rehabilitate inpatients up on the wards. I really enjoy working the inpatient aspect which in turn changed my mind and motivated me to take the nursing path. I currently have three associate degrees (criminal justice, physical therapy assistant and associate of arts). I have attended Pikes Peak Community College (Colorado Springs, Colo.) and Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College."

Chiartano has been a member of the Air Force for 12 years and has been at Keesler since 2006 following retraining from the security forces career field. She will attend the nursing school at the University of South Alabama in Mobile.

"I start Aug. 17 and will attend school year-round with an expected graduation date of May 2014," she explained. "I couldn't be more thrilled that I was selected for the NECP and look forward to the next chapter of my life as a future Air Force nurse and member of the officer corps."

Guzman said she had applied for this year's board, which met on May 13, in April.

Commenting on her notification, she said, "My squadron commander, Lt. Col. (Craig) Lambert, personally came to my office to tell me the great news! I was excited, thrilled and happy to have been accepted to the NECP!"

She had been preparing for the day for some time.

"I completed my CCAF in 2004 and have been going to school for nursing prerequisites since 2007 on and off due to deployments and PME attendance."

She plans to attend the University of Alabama-Birmingham.

"I am within two years of completing a bachelor's degree in nursing. I will attend school to finish the final two years and obtain a four-year BSN degree."

Guzman, who also calls Miami home, has been in the Air Force for 13 years. She arrived at Keesler in September 2009 following assignments at Nellis AFB, Nev., and the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Remarking on her good fortune, Guzman said, "I am very grateful the Air Force offers opportunities for our enlisted members to pursue a nursing degree and commissioning upon graduation. By being selected into the NECP, I am one step closer to achieving my goal of becoming an Air Force Nurse Corps officer. I feel very privileged to have received this opportunity."