by Alice Flanders
I am a former Navy Military Officer with nearly 15 years active duty and eight in the Naval Reserves. My military subspecialty is Space Systems Operations, and I have served on the Navy Staff at the Pentagon where I successfully managed a billion-dollar budget as well as served as Contract Technical Manager for Reentry Assets at the Defense Nuclear Agency. These positions were particularly challenging. They required in-depth technical knowledge/ expertise as well as an intense commitment to excellence and Never-Give-Up state of mind and heart.
All of this I have done as a Woman of Color who came through schooling in a newly integrated South. I started as a Physics Major turned Mathematics Major and even won opportunities to work at MIT Lincoln Laboratory. I was awarded two scholarships to study at a prestigious European University in France. My personal back story demonstrates that this great nation of ours, while not perfect, did (and does) allow for personal achievement of the individual who will not easily accept a mindset of failure. Who could have guessed that a young Black girl reared in the Lower Ninth Ward in New Orleans could face her challenges, and with hard work and determination convert these very challenges, one-by-one, into achievements.
I am deeply concerned in these troubling days, that our society and educational institutions are failing our young people. We must help our young people by driving them through appropriately challenging, yet meaningful tasks, to grow them into the people of their future dreams. And It is a crime to not allow them to see that most things worth achieving, worth having have a proportionate price attached to each challenge that makes the difference between THOSE WHO CAN and THOSE WHO WON’T. Before the military had any part in my life, I had already been set upon the Path Less Traveled. I would so deeply want to see others set upon their own personal path of freedom and success, their Path Less Traveled, be they male or female, Black, White or Grizzly Grey, be they from a home with parents who have an academic profile, or whether they come as one of the first to achieve.
I am not a proponent of Critical Race Theory, as I am firmly convinced that this political agenda broadens the societal gap, and honestly, takes us all back to pre-civil rights times, where folk are wrongly judged by race, religion, creed, sex or national origin. I believe it is nonsense to subjectively evaluate people based on the color of their skin, rather than based on character, academic achievement, team playing ability and determination. While I am aware that there are, and will likely always be people whose mindsets cannot be broadened, I have found education, training and a willingness to be part of the TEAM a fantastic key to open many/most stubborn doors. Unfortunately, many left-thinking, yet well-meaning individuals actively push a doctrine that can only lead to a low self-esteem and nearly insurmountable personal doubts in students.
I have such hope for our great state of Vermont as well as for our nation. We are, unfortunately, hurting a bit, but I believe that with the right heartset and mindset we will emerge through these difficult times with confidence in our strengths and respect for each other.
Alice Flanders is a Hartford VT resident and 2020 candidate for the Vermont State House.