CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., Sept. 15, 2015 — Southeast Missouri State University alumnus Lt. Col. David Thomas of Manassas, Virginia, spends his days defending the free world in ways others have only dreamed of doing.
David is currently enlisted in the U.S. Army. He began his career as a commissioned 2nd lieutenant and has since been promoted to lieutenant colonel in the last year. These positions have taken him all over the world and allowed him to be a part of keeping America safe.
“A military officer changes positions frequently, usually every one to three years, so I’ve had a variety of jobs during the past 18 years. I’ve worked with the Defense Department Weapons of Mass Destruction plans and policies since 2008, and I thoroughly enjoy the politics and national security issues that I think about and deal with regularly,” David says. “I also enjoy the travel. I’ve been fortunate to travel in 15 countries in Europe, Asia and Africa while serving in uniform, and the exposure to other cultures and perspectives has been a thrill.”
At Southeast, David earned a Bachelor of Science in Education, secondary education, with a major in English and a Master of Arts in English. While completing his master’s degree here, he was a graduate assistant in the Department of English.
“I love teaching, and was fortunate to serve as a graduate teaching assistant in Southeast’s English Department while completing my first master’s degree. Teaching is also a future consideration once I have completed a Ph.D. I am currently excited about contributing to contemporary understanding of national security issues, particularly related to nuclear weapons,” he says.
David says he chose Southeast because it was close to his heart, his future wife Stacey. A Jackson, Missouri, native, Stacey’s first choice was Southeast, and David, who had already enlisted in the Army, followed suit.
“I chose Southeast essentially because my future wife was attending here. Stacey’s family is from southeast Missouri, so she chose to attend here after high school, so it was my first choice” as well, David says. “I barely graduated high school in 1986 and then enlisted in the Army. After completing my initial service, I joined the Missouri National Guard and came to Cape Girardeau to join her.”
He credits Southeast for making him the professional he is today.
“Southeast was the place that I became truly interested in being an educated professional. Without this foundation, I would have struggled as a military officer,” he says.
His favorite memories at Southeast involve solidifying his family. He and Stacey married in November 1989 while they were students at Southeast.
Their lives shifted to the east coast as David progressed in military rank.
“After being promoted to major, the Army sent me to George Washington University during 2011-2012 to get a master’s in policy and practice, with a focus on international security. After being promoted to lieutenant colonel last year, the Army selected me to attend the University of Maryland for three years to obtain a doctoral degree in nuclear policy,” he says.
His doctoral coursework keeps him busy these days, so much so that he says, “I really don’t have a lot of time for hobbies. We have four teenagers and a new house, so I’m really busy. I’ve been watching ’The Wire’ lately with my free time, and my son has good taste in movies, so we go out when we can.”
To Southeast students he offers this advice:
“First, never give up. Second, the southeast Missouri region is great, but be willing and ready to leave when an opportunity arises. When Stacey and I attended Southeast, most of our circle was from the Southeast region, and most of them planned to stay. While I love to return home, I remain convinced that regional opportunities are limited. Look for work that will take you other places, and tell your company you are willing to go anywhere, because you will and you’ll love it,” he says.