Meet NLU military veteran Stacey Dixon, Ed.D.
U.S. Marine (ret.) Stacey Dixon works in National Louis University’s Veterans Center, where she follows her passion for helping veterans reintegrate into civilian life. After a 21-year military career, mostly as a scientist, she also wants to teach young people life skills, character development and financial literacy in addition to academic subjects. She’s particularly interested in teaching young people in neighborhoods like Chicago’s South side Englewood, where she went to high school at Lindblom Tech. Stacey obtained her doctoral degree in 2015.
What prompted you to enter the military?
My brother Oren joined the Marine Corps, and when he came back on leave I admired the way he had transformed into this great person–very confident, determined and focused. I wanted to be that person. He always talked highly of the Marine Corps and what it was doing for him. I wanted to do the traveling and experience the same things he did.
What was your role in the military?
I started as an administrative clerk, but two years into a 21-year military career, I transferred to meteorology and oceanography and spent the rest of my time in the military there.
I was the first female science officer in the Marines. At that time, meteorology was the only science we had, though now they’ve opened it up to computer science.
What did you do as a meteorologist?
We supported both the infantry and aviation side of missions. We had to learn the basics of forecasting, including analysis and charts. In our work, we sent up radiosondes, which are instruments which measure temperature, humidity, cloud levels and more. They are carried up by balloons to altitudes of 5,000, 10,000, 20,000 and 30,000 feet, and their measurements gave us the data we needed.
What was your experience of the military?
As a divorced mom of two children, who are now adults, the military formed an extended family. When I was deployed, the wives of Marines I was deployed with would care for the children while I was away. My kids grew up with their kids, like extended brothers and sisters. It was a blessing to have that all around you.
What rank did you achieve?
I entered the Marine Corps as a private first class and climbed the ranks through gunnery sergeant. Then I began submitting my package for the warrant officer program. That required achieving at least the rank of sergeant, six years of service and a competitive record including fitness, required professional training and courses and strong recommendations. After 10 years, I was finally selected and promoted to warrant officer. Before I retired I was promoted to my final rank of Chief Warrant Officer 3.
Warrant officers are considered the technical experts in their fields and represent the experience of the unit. Commanding officers often rely on their counsel in their area of expertise.
Why did you pursue higher education?
My stepdad was pursuing a Ph.D. in psychology before he passed away, so my parents always valued education. I did well in high school, so they anticipated my going to college. But I had my mind set on going into the military. Whenever I had an opportunity to take a class, I did. I was always pursuing education. I got my bachelor’s from Thomas Edison State College in Trenton, New Jersey right before I retired from the military. Then I earned my MBA from National College in San Diego, and worked in California as a financial advisor. I returned to Chicago in 2008, and worked on my doctorate from 2011-2015. I earned my Ed.D. from Argosy University.
Where do you want to be professionally in the future?
I definitely think it will include some form of education, in personal and professional development. It could be for military getting ready to retire or leave service. And I would also like to teach post-secondary. I currently serve at NLU as an Americorps VISTA (Volunteer in Service to America).