Though Chad Stewart left BYU for a mission to Spain as an electrical engineering major, he explained, “When I returned, I began looking for a degree that more matched my interests. While I was interested in political science subjects, my interests were more broad and the international studies program, as it was then constituted, was a good fit.”
After graduation spring 2003 as an international studies major with a minor in European studies, Stewart entered the Air Force through BYU’s Air Force ROTC. Now, after undergraduate pilot training from Columbus Air Force Base in Mississippi, Stewart is living abroad—spending three years on assignment in the United Kingdom. “I was selected to fly in the KC-135R, an Air Force refueling tanker, for an assignment to RAF Mildenhall in the United Kingdom,” he said.
Stewart is satisfied with his decision to study international studies and looks back on his time at the Kennedy Center with gratitude. “I never felt that I had to take a class that I didn’t find interesting,” said Stewart. “Some of my most memorable classes include U.S. foreign policy and British government and politics taught by Jeff Ringer and an international political economy class taught by Scott Cooper. Joseph Irvine, a part-time instructor, taught a class on terrorism and insurgency that opened my eyes to the world I hadn’t thought too much about before: intelligence gathering and utilization by U.S. intelligence services. Had I not already committed myself to a career as an Air Force pilot, I would have gone with a career in intelligence as a result of that class. But the Air Force holds on to people tagged as pilots these days, so my path was set.”
Even now, post-graduation, Stewart continues his pursuit of international studies. “For me, studying international relations is something I do everyday, whether I’m in school or not,” he said. “As an Air Force officer I feel that I have an added obligation to understand U.S. foreign policy and how it affects other countries in the world.” The Kennedy Center helped Stewart “formulate my own opinions and comment intelligently on U.S. policy,” traits that have added to his success.
Soon, Stewart will continue his formal education. “I intend to pursue an advanced degree through a University of Oklahoma international relations program that has a branch on base at RAF Mildenhall, where I’ll be living for the next three years,” he explained. “I fully expect that my experience in the Kennedy Center will have prepared me well for that program.”