by Tech. Sgt. Dayvon McCarrell
11/15/2013 - TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- Although
I am 39 and have been in the military for 15 and a half years, my
educational journey could be considered by some as long, tedious and in
some cases too late. I came into the Air Force in 1998 as an E-3
Surveillance RADAR technician after I failed in my first attempt at
completing a degree. From 1992 to 1996, my education consisted of
partying. I did not have any focus, foresight or determination to
complete a goal.
Fast forward to October of 1997. I was bouncing between jobs, recently
married with a child on the way, and the reality of life hit. Although I
did have some college credits, I still had to put on every application
the highest level of education completed was High School Diploma. At
this time, I knew I had to make a change for my family and accomplish
what I essentially set out to do in 1992. I enlisted in the Air Force
under the Delayed Enlisted Program and went to basic in March 1998.
During my technical training, my interest in the Surveillance RADAR
career field went beyond the technician scope. I wanted to know how
everything worked. When I arrived to Tinker AFB, Okla., in January 1999 I
did some research and enrolled at Rose State College in June 1999 as
physics major because Rose State College did not have an engineering
program at that time. In order to accomplish my educational goals, my
supervisor afforded me the opportunity to attend school, but I had to
work the graveyard shift (11:30 p.m. to 7:30 a.m.).
During my journey, I made many personal sacrifices that were not within
the norm in comparison to my peers in the military. From June 1999 to
May 2001, I attended Rose State College and obtained my associate degree
in physics. My next step was enrolling at the University of Oklahoma in
their engineering program. This was not an easy task due to my past
academic performance. I had to meet with the Dean of Engineering and
convince him I was worthy to be accepted into his school of engineering
above students who carried a much higher GPA and had fewer personal and
professional demands of their time.
In July 2001, I received my acceptance letter and was determined to
prove to him that he did not make a mistake in allowing me into the
program. As I advanced through the many engineering and physics courses
at the University of Oklahoma, I continued to work the graveyard shift
in order to pursue my academic goal of a bachelor's degree. Finally, in
May 2006, I finished with a program GPA of 3.0 but was still haunted by
my past overall GPA of 2.65. The Dean of Engineering called me into his
office and congratulated me personally on my accomplishment because he
knew the academic demands as well as the personal demands were far more
than the normal student could handle.
Originally, I did not have aspirations to obtain a CCAF degree. However,
I realized how important to my career development a CCAF degree was.
Although I already had a bachelor's in Mechanical Engineering before
receiving my CCAF degree, when I met the academic requirements and was
awarded my CCAF degree, I was actually proud and felt motivated to
continue my academic goals.
As I contemplated my next step, due to my enlistment being close to
terminal, I decided to take the non-volunteer orders and teach technical
training at Sheppard AFB, Texas, from 2006 to 2011. During that time
frame, I enjoyed teaching and figured out that my future career path
would be in the education field, but I wanted to teach at a university.
So, I started my master's at Oklahoma State University in systems
engineering and finished in May 2010. I knew I had to obtain a doctorate
to teach, so after graduating from Oklahoma State University, I
immediately enrolled in a doctoral program in business management. I was
mentally exhausted from the rigor of engineering and wanted a degree
that could be marketable as well set me up for a senior level leadership
position after I retired, so I elected business management to hone my
business acumen. Finally, after three years of research and business
learning, I finished with a doctorate in business management.
Throughout my time working the graveyard shift, I was fortunate enough
to work as a design engineer for OG&E and IEC designing relays and
HVAC systems prior to moving to Texas. After coming back to Tinker AFB
in 2011, I was able to obtain work as a college professor at Rose State
College teaching electrical engineering and math courses. I plan on
transitioning to a university within the year in order to teach business
at the university level as I progress through the ranks and put in my
time as university professor.
When I reflect upon my academic and professional journey, I come to the
realization that the choices I made in life always carried at least a
five year penalty or a window of opportunity in five years. I challenge
anyone to take heed of the professional and academic decisions that you
make now, because in the future you will have to answer for them in
either a positive or negative light. In addition, as you progress in the
field of academia, the amount of self-sacrifice increases and it is
extremely important to have an excellent support system. All-in-all, I
never let my children suffer and every sacrifice I made to achieve my
goal was at my own personal expense and not at the expense of my family.
My name is Tech. Sgt. Dayvon McCarrell (2A973) and I hold a Doctorate in
Business Administration with a research concentration in Business
Management. I will forever be known as Dr. McCarrell!