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July 9, 2015

Air Force Academy Cadet Excels at IVMF

Air Force Academy Cadet Excels at IVMF

Michelle Isbester joins IVMF research team; helps build database of collaborative veteran initiatives

Michelle_IsbesterWhen U.S. Air Force Academy (USAFA) Cadet Michelle Isbester, of Littleton, Colorado, received word that she was one of eight cadets selected to participate in the Academy’s Cadet Summer Research Program (CSRP)—a program that provides academy cadets with an opportunity to observe and implement concepts from their coursework over several weeks during an international or domestic summer internship—she was immediately drawn to the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University (IVMF).

“I had never been to New York State, but more importantly, I was really impressed with the work of the IVMF and Syracuse University’s far-reaching support of veterans and military families,” said Cadet Isbester, who chose IVMF from a list of possible internship sites, and subsequently arrived on the Syracuse University campus on June 21.

Under the direction of IVMF research director Dr. Nick Armstrong, Cadet Isbester joined visiting student research assistant Ryan Van Slyke (Indiana University) in working on a new IVMF research initiative to catalogue and build a database of newly emerging collaborative initiatives among veteran serving organizations across the United States. According to Dr. Armstrong, both the federal government and local communities have recently launched new initiatives to promote greater collaboration and information sharing among veteran serving organizations. To date, however, and mainly due to the novelty of these collaborative ventures, little research has been conducted to understand who is doing what, how they formed, and lessons that might be applied to other communities across the country.

“As cadets, we don’t often think about the big picture … that someday we will be veterans using the services provided by the IVMF and other organizations across the country,” said Cadet Isbester, a rising senior at the U.S. Air Force Academy, majoring in management, and minoring in Chinese. Her ultimate career aspiration is in hospital administration or acquisitions.

“It will be a privilege for me to report back to the cadets and the Academy’s management department on my rewarding experience, while explaining the role of the IVMF, and presenting on the research/database work I conducted over the past three weeks at Syracuse University,” shared Cadet Isbester, who also had the opportunity to visit Niagara Falls and travel to New York City on July 4th during her internship.

Cadet Isbester’s three-week long experience was possible thanks to a recently established agreement between the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs and the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University. “The program provides the opportunity for academy cadets to broaden their development beyond academic coursework through an enriching summer experience,” added Dr. Mike Haynie, Syracuse University vice chancellor and executive director of the IVMF, who also served for 14 years (1992-2006) as an officer in the United States Air Force, and was a faculty member in USAFA’s management department.

Dr. Armstrong has high praise for Cadet Isbester and her contributions to the IVMF. “Michelle has been a great asset to the research team. Her fresh perspective allowed us to make better sense of the data and, hence, serve a broader audience.” He added that Cadet Isbester’s data gathering effort is an important first step toward better informing and assisting communities in how they support their local servicemembers, veterans, and their families. IVMF expects to release this database and a short report highlighting the tool and initial findings later this summer.


More about the U.S. Air Force Academy’s Cadet Summer Research Program (CSRP):

The U.S. Air Force Academy’s Cadet Summer Research Program (CSRP), and similar programs at sister academies such as West Point, provide academy cadets with an opportunity to observe and implement concepts from their coursework over several weeks during an international or domestic summer internship. The programs enable cadets to work side by side with leaders in government, industry, and NGOs both stateside and abroad in programs that closely align with their academic studies. It is a critical part of developing future military leaders for the challenges they will face by increasing their cross-cultural competencies and providing hands-on experience with national security and defense issues while working with some of our Nation’s most distinguished leaders. These unique experiences broaden cadets’ perspectives and provide them with practical advanced education related to their responsibilities as future leaders for our military. In recent years, cadets have worked with The White House National Security Staff, Office of the Secretary of Defense, Department of Veterans Affairs, Army Science Board, the Environmental Protection Agency, JP Morgan Chase, IBM, Raytheon, Boeing, TRADOC Research and Analysis Command (TRAC), and NATO. These opportunities allow cadets to travel around the world including China, France, Australia, Thailand, Nicaragua, Germany, Honduras, Washington, D.C., Monterey, Calif., and Maui, Hawaii. Some opportunities develop into capstone research or thesis projects in the following academic year.

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