Joseph Gass: A drive on the highway led U.S. Marine Corps veteran to Laurel Ridge ‣ Laurel Ridge Community College
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Joseph Gass: A drive on the highway led U.S. Marine Corps veteran to Laurel Ridge

Gass in uniform
Joseph Gass in his U.S. Marine Corps days

A Laurel Ridge billboard along Interstate 66 was the sign Joseph Gass needed to pursue his higher education.

The U.S. Marine Corps veteran said he’d “been wanting to go back to school for a very long time” when he saw the ad. Gass decided he should get his associate degree before his G.I. Bill benefits expired.

“I started thinking about online classes,” he said.

As a father and a full-time police officer, being able to take all of his classes online was helpful to Gass, who started taking classes in summer 2021 and earned his degree in general studies in fall 2023.

“One of my very last classes this past fall was a U.S. government class that I enjoyed tremendously,” Gass said. “I enjoyed every instructor I had. I could tell they definitely enjoyed what they were teaching.”

He also had kind words for veteran academic advisor Jeanmarie Corrado and military benefits official Sharon Painter.

“They were excellent,” Gass said. “They were a tremendous help throughout the entire process. I was thoroughly impressed with Laurel Ridge and the experience and everybody involved.”

Before he had even started his senior year of high school, Gass, who grew up in Northern Virginia, had signed up for the U.S. Marine Corps. After graduation, he was sent to Cherry Point, N.C. In 2009, he was deployed overseas with the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit.

Gass is applying to American Military University where he plans to finish his criminal justice bachelor’s degree. He hopes to start classes in March 2024.

Laurel Ridge Community College was known as Lord Fairfax Community College until June 2022. For consistency purposes, the college will be referenced as Laurel Ridge going forward.