I am a Captain in the Air Force. Technically, I’m classified as a Force Support Officer. I’m currently assigned as the Branch Chief of Air Force Casualty at the Air Force Personnel Center. We take casualty reports from all over the world and track injured or ill Airmen all the way through to recovery. In addition to taking care of Airmen, we assign and track notification teams and ensure the families of those Airmen who die receive all the benefits and entitlements due to them. This office is also responsible for creating Air Force policy that incorporates the rapidly changing laws and programs dealing with ill or injured Airmen. It’s a truly humbling experience to work with these brave Airmen and their families every day.
When I decided to return to school, my spouse was already active duty Air Force. We chose to come to San Angelo just so I could attend ASU. I wanted a small school with more interaction between the students and the professors. I’d heard horror stories from a cousin who had to stand in line for 45 minutes after a class at James Madison just to ask a question. I definitely made the right choice.
I loved being an English major at ASU! I treasured the interaction I had with other students and the professors. I made a lot of friends that I keep in touch with to this day—eight years later. The faculty’s strong support made me more outgoing and effective. They pushed me out of my comfort zone. I left the university much more poised and self-confident.
While many officers are not able to translate their degrees into what they do on a daily basis, I’m happy to say I use the skills I learned as an English major every day! Air Force officers are managers and policy makers. As such, clear, concise writing and good grammar are imperative—the Advanced Grammar class I took was dollar-for-dollar both the most painful and the most profitable class I took. I was able to distinguish myself early in my career because of my writing and editing ability. The opportunity to present papers at conferences, work in the writing center, and get involved with Sigma Tau Delta also helped me when it came to public speaking, managing people and motivating different personality types. After presenting a paper at a conference, getting up to speak to 450 people about sexual assault or diversity is actually pretty simple. In addition, the ability to think critically has helped so much. I’ve been assigned to new programs because my bosses knew I could look critically at a topic and articulate the pros and cons both verbally and in writing.
I believe that everyone can benefit from the English program at ASU. As I mentioned before, the smaller class size allows you to really interact with the other students and the professors. In addition, you get an excellent education and are afforded opportunities to be actively involved in every class you take as well as in the department itself. I constantly recommend ASU to Airmen who are planning to get out of the service and go to school. I also remind them that you only get as much out of school as you are willing to give and encourage them to get involved with the student activities.
For being such a small school, I’m always amazed at the places I find ASU graduates! When I deployed to the desert, there were 8 ASU graduates on the very small base for a span of 24-hours—in fact, my roommate was a recent ASU graduate. For an Air Force brat without a real hometown, San Angelo is the place I claim because I have so many good memories of my time there.
I’m getting ready to join the US Air Force Academy’s English Department faculty this fall. I hope my students there will remember me half as fondly as I remember my professors—at least once they recover from the assignments!