Every Airman has a story: Turning dreams into reality

  • Published
  • By Maj. Carla Gleason, 477th Fighter Group Public Affairs
  • 477th Fighter Group
More than 20 years ago Master Sgt. Shawn Arnold joined the Air Force as a member of the security police (now security forces.)

"I grew up as a military brat," said Arnold. "At the time, both my parents were in the Marines, the military was what I knew."
Plus, according to Arnold, military duty fell in line with his desire to serve; it was a way to give back to his country.  After obtaining his bachelor's degree, Arnold crossed over into the Army as an officer, but resigned his commission in 2006 to become a teacher.

"Becoming a teacher, in my mind, was very similar to my service in the military in many regards, an extension of my commitment to service," said Arnold. "And I always wanted to be a teacher; it was a way to give back locally."

But it hadn't even been a year before Arnold says he started to miss the military life. Four years went by and Arnold honed his teaching skills using the leadership and communication skills he learned in the military to enhance his performance as an educator.

"The leadership skills I gained from the military definitely translated into the classroom and then later as an education administrator and now as a superintendent," said Arnold. "First leading small groups, then larger ones, along with concise, clear, timely communication, all skills I learned growing up in the military."

Then, according to Arnold, the opportunity to have the best of both worlds came up, and he jumped at the chance to put the uniform on once again.

"When I heard about the Air Force Reserve 477th Fighter Group was standing up and needed a historian, I thought that would be a great fit," said Arnold. "I could put on the uniform again and serve in the Air Force Reserve part time while continuing my career as an educator."

Both careers flourished. Now serving as a first sergeant at the 477th, Arnold uses his military role to take care of people and integrate his desire to serve to an even greater extent.  At the same time, Arnold's career in education took off--first as a teacher, then as a principal in the district administration offices in the Matsu-Valley, and finally as the superintendent in Nome, Alaska.

"When I was a kid, I looked up to my teachers and I looked up to my parents and was proud of their service in the military," said Arnold. "Thankfully the Reserve allows me to do both."
What advice does Arnold have for others?

"If you have a dream, keep working toward it, and do the best you can wherever you are. The military made it possible for me to continue my education through my bachelors and beyond, and helped me take my dream of becoming a teacher and make it real."