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Fellow & Political Science Instructor Institute for Future Conflict, USAFA

Fellow & Political Science Instructor

Institute for Future Conflict, USAFA


Interview

What role do you play in education? 

 I am a political science instructor at the US Air Force Academy. I teach Space Policy. I am also a Fellow at the Institute for Future Conflict where I focus on leadership development education.

How long have you been in education?

 I have been at the US Air Force Academy for one year. However, I have been teaching space operations and space policy courses for eight years.

Why do you think education is important?

 Education is important because 1) it lays the foundation for critical thinking and engaging in credible conversation and 2) it opens doors and opportunities for people to explore new ideas

What do you love most about your role in education? 

 I love interacting with students. I learn so much from them and my goal is they learn some from me, as well. I also really enjoy learning from and interacting with other faculty members. The students and staff at the Air Force Academy have a lot of great experiences and ideas. There is never a dull moment.

What is the best advice you have received about impacting the education sector? 

 The best I received about impacting the education sector is the importance of engaging the students in AND outside the classroom. The students have to be interested in the material and also accountable. Additionally, our role as educators is to lead as much as it is to instruct.

What do you think are the top 3 things that help create a healthy learning environment? Please Explain

 My top 3 things are: 1) Encouraging credible, open, and respectful communication 2) Promoting experiential learning 3) Reminding peers and students that many challenges / problems will require an interdisciplinary solution.

What do you think is the most important quality in an educator? Please Explain

 An open mind – As educators sometimes we get in a rut and fail to jump into a deliberate education /development plan. We must seek to learn from our peers and students. This ensures the course content and our pedagogical practices are current / up to date.

What advice would you give to the younger generation about their education?

 Be demanding customers of your education!! If you feel as though you do not understand something or want to learn more about something, go out there and seek it. Be hungry for knowledge.

What encouragement would you give to those who are interested in being in education?

They education industry is a tough community but is also very rewarding. Be prepared to receive little credit for what you do. Find your “why” and remember it during the good days and bad.

As a Black Person, what obstacles have you overcome, or are you overcoming to excel in education? 

As with any community, there are challenges. My personal experiences have spanned everything from not understanding the material to not knowing how to get along with others. However, I have always tried to keep an open mind and encouraged open / respectful communication. As a result, I have used these challenges as an opportunity for growth rather than an obstacle that must be overcome.

 

Is there anything else you would like to share?

Remember that education is a lifelong endeavor. Whether you are student or educator, pursue learning and teaching opportunities both in and out of the classroom. I have found that some of the best EDUCATION has been in some of the mentoring relationships I have developed with peers and students over the years. 

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