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Spartan Spotlight



Sharing the Stories of Some of Our Most Exemplary Staff Members

Erin Fox

My upbringing, marked by frequent relocations due to my father’s job, from Michigan to Kentucky, then to Missouri, and onto Nebraska in my junior year of high school, instilled in me a resilience and adaptability that proved invaluable as I carved my path. It was during my time at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln that I met my husband, Marty, amidst the ebb and flow of college life.

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Bink Skinner

From the sixth grade on I knew I would serve in the Navy. My grandfather, a retired Chief Petty Officer, was a major influence and guiding force throughout my life. Summers and vacations in Jacksonville, Florida always included frequent trips to NAS Jax, NAS Cecil Field, and Mayport for runs to the commissary and skeet shooting.

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Nicole Dierolf

I grew up in Tucson, Arizona, spending most days plotting my escape from the Sonoran Desert. As a child, I frequently found myself in conversations with adults or preferring to spend time with my grandpa, James. At the time, I lived with my dad, who was often deployed in the Army, so I got to spend a lot of time with my extended family. My grandpa was my favorite.

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Jeff Schwartz

I grew up in the northwest suburbs of Chicago where I was the youngest on my block. I was constantly challenged by older kids who were more athletic, wittier, and obviously more experienced than me. We played outside nearly every day, through the harshest winters and sweltering summers. While I took my academics seriously, I spent more time figuring out how to develop street smarts.

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Michael Harris

I grew up in Fayetteville, North Carolina – home to the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division.  My Dad was an enlisted paratrooper assigned to Fort Bragg for over 18 years.  Some of his deployment assignments included Germany, Korea, and Vietnam. My Dad and I had a weekend ritual of coffee and breakfast at the local Waffle House, and on one occasion when I was in my late teenage years, he said “Son, get out of this town, and DO NOT join the Army. Go do something great and different than what I did.”

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Michael Bernert

“Do not let others define success for you.  In my opinion, the Air Force is not a career path, location, or assignment.  It is the network of extraordinary people whom you support and who support you.  While my successful Air Force career was influenced at times by luck, skill, and perhaps divine intervention, it was wholly successful due to the people I served and the leadership skills I gleaned from my leaders.”

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Melvin Ramirez

“I spent 20 years serving our country, and that is something I’m extremely proud of, and to this day I think it was the best decision I made for my family and for myself. What I have experienced over the years has been nothing short of extraordinary and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”

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Elizabeth Stern

“My story starts a little different than most veterans of my age. Growing up, it was never a question of if I would go to college. My three sisters and I were always going to get higher educations. I was a college freshman, English focused in Journalism, in South Georgia on September 11, 2001. That event would shape all of my adulthood, I just didn’t realize how or when.”

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Chris Harper

“The most rewarding aspect this work presents is not the opportunity to lead, but to serve people.  That’s truly the one thing I enjoyed during my time in the Navy and I wholeheartedly believe that’s an attribute I inherited from my mother.  She spent her entire adult life, all the way up until six months prior to her passing, waiting tables and serving others.”

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Luke Frank

“I entered the Army as a Civil Affairs Specialist and had the opportunity to learn a foreign language. I selected Arabic from the available options after being told it was the hardest program offered. I breezed through it with my newfound fire, but while learning Arabic, the terrible events of 9/11 occurred. September 11, 2001 was the day I gained patriotism and the day my fire gained purpose.”

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