Kent professors bring military experiences to the classroom


D. Blake Stringer teaches his aeronautics class Wednesday, Dec 3, 2014.

Leanne O’Neill

Currently, there are 620 veteran students attending Kent State; however, there are also 200 working for the university, according to the Center for Adult and Veteran Services.

Among these professors is Thomas Brewer, who teaches health policy and management courses in the College of Public Health. Brewer earned his bachelor’s degree at Kent State and has spent 14 years as a faculty member. In addition to his years in teaching, he spent 11 years in the United States Army: five years in active duty and six years in the National Guard.

“Being responsible for training and disciplining soldiers that were assigned to me I’m sure had some impact on the way I view teaching to this day,” Brewer said. “But certainly I don’t make freshmen do push-ups if they come in late or anything like that.”

Brewer recounted when a student picked up on his military habits before mentioning his experience. While speaking to a classroom, he said he was making a gesture that many military members may use when giving orders. Brewer laughed as he recalled a student raising their hand to ask how long he spent in the military. 

Blake Stringer, assistant professor for flight and air traffic control, relates his military experiences to the classroom. Stringer said he spent 20 years in the army after graduating from West Point. He spent his first eight years as an aviation officer and with an air traffic control unit in Germany and spent the last 12 years of his military career in school, teaching at West Point and working at the Army Research Laboratory for NASA.

He said he did not find the transition between military and teaching to be difficult due to of the nature of his work. 

“In the classroom, the military helps you with this kind of environment because there’s a schedule,” Stringer said. “It’s a very clockwork-type schedule like you kind of get in the military, a routine of sorts of things you do during the day.” 

Stringer said he felt fortunate to be able to experience everything he wanted to in the army, considering not all soldiers get to do everything they want. He attributed this to hard work but also networking and being approachable. Stringer feels communicating and relating to others in one’s field is an important skill for all students to learn. 

Stringer said he is helping design the upcoming Kent State program for aerospace engineering.

Contact Leanne O’Neill at [email protected].