From Soldier to Teacher
Yolanda Flowers' '12 path to the Army, and to Le Moyne, was a circuitous one.
A 1987 graduate of Franciscan Academy in Syracuse, Flowers attended Spelman College in Atlanta, Ga., and the State University of New York at Albany. While there were positive aspects to both, she said, neither one was exactly the right fit for her. Flowers returned to Central New York to work as a security officer and began to think about what she wanted to do next. It was then that she decided to join the Army and, in 1989, she began basic training in Fort Dix, N.J.
Before long Flowers was on the Army's fast track. After stints in Munich and Frankfurt, Germany, she was assigned to Fort Mead in Maryland, where she rose to the rank of sergeant and did counter-intelligence work for more than three years, collaborating with the National Security Agency and F.B.I. She was transferred to Camp Humphreys in Pyeongtaek, South Korea, and then Fort Huachuca in Arizona. It was there that she served as an instructor in the U.S. Army Intelligence Center, teaching courses in interpersonal skills and investigative report writing, and preparing counter-intelligence agents to serve as liaisons.
In 2002, Flowers began training at Fort Drum in the Infantry Division, and completed a tour in Afghanistan before being honorably discharged in 2004.
In addition to providing her with outstanding training and leadership and communication skills, Flowers' time in the Army, particularly the years she spent as an instructor, showed her that she was passionate about teaching. After completing her bachelor's degree in English at the State University of New York at Cortland, she began to seriously consider a career in education.
William Silky, Ed.D., then chair of the education department, encouraged her to pursue that goal, and suggested she would be more marketable if she became certified to teach students with disabilities. Having grown up in Syracuse, Flowers said she was aware of the College's "outstanding academic reputation" and decided to further her education on the Heights. When she entered the master's degree program in education, she found it to be "structured, rigorous and strict," in short an excellent match for an Army veteran.
Flowers graduated from Le Moyne with a dual certification in English language arts and teaching students with disabilities. She is currently realizing her dream of being an educator, teaching ninth-grade English to students with disabilities at the Syracuse Academy of Science.
"Le Moyne provided me with excellent preparation in both the content I would be teaching and in classroom management," she said. "It also offered an amazing support system for veterans like me, and tuned out to be a great match overall."