Sigonella, Sicily, Italy
"In this program, I have learned new concepts and ideas and teaching strategies that I can’t wait to integrate into my own classroom."
Keith Lewis plans to use what he learns in the Master of Education in Adult and Lifelong Learning program degree at the University of Arkansas to expand his teaching qualifications to include adults as he prepares for a move to Japan.
“It is nice to find purpose with pursuing a master’s in ADLL,” he said. “In this program, I have learned new concepts and ideas and teaching strategies that I can’t wait to integrate into my own classroom. The entire process has been mind-opening. Online learning has opened the door to an opportunity that I otherwise wouldn't have had the chance to follow.”
Because he is six hours ahead of Arkansas time, Lewis’ life is on a totally different timetable. He needed flexibility and control of his time. Studying online was his only option, he said.
“Learning online, I can do everything from home at my own pace on my own schedule,” Lewis said. “It allows me to focus on getting the work done without distraction.”
Lewis’ husband is a Hospital Corpsman Second Class in the U.S. Navy in Italy, where Lewis hasn’t been able to teach because of strict employment rules.
Prior to Italy, he lived in Bahrain, where he was constantly working, thanks to that country’s less restrictive off-base employment guidelines. There he took on the role of head of department for the fifth grade. This gave him complete control of the grade along with more administrative duties for the elementary school.
“I went from an environment where I was needed (in Bahrain), with the authority to make decisions that affected others, to being in Italy where there was nothing,” Lewis said. “I felt a bit lost on what to do next. I talked to a lady in the Fleet and Family office on the base. She recommended that I use this downtime to go for a master’s online. I settled on the U of A because it had so many degree options for adult learning.”
Lewis is one of 23 people to receive the W.E. Manning Memorial Scholarship for online U of A students for the 2020-2021 academic year. In February, he will be moving to his husband’s new duty station in Japan and hopes to teach English as a Second Language (ESL) classes to adults there. His long-term goal is to work with enlisted service personnel who are leaving the military, helping to match their skills and interests with possible degrees and professions.
“My husband and I are both going to school and living on his income,” Lewis said. “Financial help takes a lot of the weight off my shoulders so that I can use this downtime to learn. This scholarship would give a little breathing room with our situation.”