Maj Curtis Becker
I appreciate your request, and would offer the following if you find it useful:
Maj Curtis Becker (USAF, Ret)
When assigned to HQ USAFE, Ramstein AB, GE from ’84-89, I was given the opportunity to work on my Masters degree while supporting the Intel Systems division. While my work was concentrated on systems and interfaces, the Master’s of Human Relations program offered by the University of Oklahoma as an off campus extension program was the best fit between my military obligations and the needs of my family. The instructors were, to put it honestly, amazing individuals, and I got more out of the personal interactions with them and fellow students than I got (frankly) from the books and advance reading required. The program was, I believe, unique in many aspects. We signed up for the desired class two months in advance, read the advance materials as directed, and came into class the first evening with a paper written addressing high points or issues that the text was focused on. The classes ran from Friday evening (6-10pm), all day Saturday, Sunday afternoon to early evening, every evening the following week (6-10), and a ‘final’ Saturday morning in which we wrote responses to a series of questions/considerations we were asked to address. For those of us that were frequently in the field or on travel, these courses were tailored to allow us to complete the degree program with minimal impact on our duties. I must admit, for me the highlight of the effort over that two year period were the lessons (and history) that Dr Henderson shared with us – the man should be recognized as a National treasure…
As you would expect, the study concluded with a mandatory thesis (with minimum requirements for length of the effort and content, once the thesis topic was approved. Mine was on ‘The Use of Music in the Church Service to Influence the Worship Experience and the Response of the Congregation’ (I was serving as a Music Minister in our local church at the time – a position I hold in a church in MD currently).
While the value of the program in fitting my needs to have a Master’s on my military resume, the value to my future efforts and impact on others is the most valid testimony for reasons others should seriously consider this program:
- Marital Relations. I have had a very successful marriage in every way that counts. My spouse had scoliosis as a child, and went through a series of surgeries before and after we met. Her health was always a driving force in family decisions. Eventually, she spent 23 years going through a series of approaches to deal with pain management and passed away three years ago due to complications with a staph infection. The MHR program equips its students with the tools to take a subjective approach to issues that come into a marriage – whether it’s through a better understanding of the family dynamics that shaped your own history, or that of your spouse. It also helps you better understand the dynamics of the family you are raising, and alternative ways to address both schooling considerations as well as those of interpersonal relationships with teachers and others given access to your children. From a personal perspective, you need a strong faith factor applied to the marriage, and no program offers ‘all the answers’ – but lessons learned in the MHR series can help you better understand the dynamics at work and plan accordingly.
- Workplace Relations. Dynamics in the work environment are areas that this course series focuses on, and for the future roles I had in the military and as a government contractor managing a personnel, these skills have come in handy when addressing personality differences and management differences impacting productivity and workplace stress. In the past 14 years I’ve led a major DoD and Joint training Research, Development, Test and Evaluation effort for the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and forces from Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia. The skill set dealing with this kind of a divergent group with agendas that are often in conflict takes the kind of empathy and understanding that this MHR program provides. Obviously, my career has not gone the route of the industrial counselor that the program seems intended to support – but my experience shows that it adapts well to any workforce dynamic.
- External Relations. This program will have an impact on the student that you cannot forsee in your future…and I believe that impact will have one more attuned to the needs of others, and given to a more philanthropic attitude to those they encounter in their daily walk. My wife and I founded a 501(c)3 nearly 10 years ago which is meeting many of the needs of people in the coal mining areas of Pike County, KY and Southern MD. Our charity (Santas 4 Christ) works to give school supplies, shoes, and other materials to support children just before the school year, and in the winter provide coats, blankets, boots, toys, and a visit from Santa during the Christmas season. You will find that this course of study opens your eyes and heart to the needs of others as well…and that will stimulate you to activities that truly enrich your life.
I have no idea if any of this helps you – but I simply want to say as I’ve said above, the MHR program made a huge impact on my life and that of my family…and I’m so very grateful to the staff and instructors that became part of my life nearly 30 years ago…
Posted on Tue, August 23, 2016
by Stacy Smith