Brown returns to the classroom after Kuwait deployment

ICC instructor Ashley Brown returned to his classroom this fall following a nine-month deployment to Kuwait.

Service is an important word to Itawamba Community College instructor Ashley Brown of Blue Springs. Fresh off a nine-month deployment to Kuwait, Brown has returned to the classroom this fall as an industrial maintenance, robotics and electrical technology instructor at the Belden Center. He is now in a different kind of service. He is responsible for recruiting students; building and maintaining the curriculum; ensuring students achieve the skills necessary to be functional, entry-level employees in related career fields; maintaining relationships with industry and prospective employers and linking them. That’s a long way from what Major Brown was doing in western Asia, where he was the logistic officer for a rotary aviation maintenance unit. Brown has been in the military for more than 17 years, beginning as an enlisted private. He has served as an armor crewman in an M1A1 Abrams tank, a calvary scout, completed a 12-month deployment to Iraq and was promoted to the rank of Sergeant. After six years of enlisted time, he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant and became a calvary officer, serving as a platoon leader, troop executive officer and commander. While Brown was in the command position, his unit was deployed for nine months to Syria and Kuwait. Today, Brown teaches in an air-conditioned and heated classroom, depending on the season. His typical hours are Monday through Thursday, 7:30 a.m.-4:40 p.m., and Friday, 7:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Most days consist of teaching three-to-four three credit hour courses maintaining laboratory equipment, periodic student advising and communicating with industry contacts. Brown, who earned his associate’s degree in robotics/automated systems from ICC, became an instructor following a more than 10-year career in industry as a maintenance technician and manufacturing engineer. He also has a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts from Excelsior College. “After several years working in industry, I had returned to ICC taking courses in Tool and Die Technology,” Brown said. “During this time Mr. (Barry) Emison suggested that I apply for an instructor position with the Workforce department. I was fortunate enough to be hired. A year later the CTE Division opened the Industrial Maintenance Technology program, and I had the honor of being selected as the instructor.” Brown said that what he notices most about how ICC has changed since he was enrolled is that “student access to financial assistance and internship opportunities with local employers has increased dramatically.” He says his ICC job provides an opportunity to assist others in improving their careers and lives, which can be translated into service. Brown also likes that he has a work schedule that allows optimal amounts of time with his family which includes his wife, Mandee, and children Zander, Hope, Gunner and Wyatt, who in 2018 represented him as an honorary captain on the field prior to a football game during his previous deployment. Brown also said a positive of his job is the ability to consistently research and experience new technology and practices that are at the forefront of his field. At ICC, he has been awarded two of its most prestigious honors, Lamplighter 2013 and Meritorious Achievement, 2017. He said he’s learned a lot from the impact of COVID. “It has required us to deliver most of our course content through online methods. Unfortunately, this career field requires a number of learned, hands-on skills that are difficult to attain when unable to work in a laboratory environment. We must continue to research and develop methods of teaching and reinforcement that can be used during COVID-type scenarios.” When he’s not in the classroom or deployed, Brown is boating or hunting. He is also a member of the American Legion, Armor and Cavalry Officers’ Association and Carey Springs Baptist Church. Whether he’s in Syria, Kuwait or Belden, Mississippi, Ashley Brown is involved in service…to his country or to the students he shapes for new beginnings and new careers. And ICC students whose lives he touches have the benefit of what he learned when he was pursuing a degree, “the value of attaining and keeping a competitive edge in your career field.” Welcome home, Ashley Brown.

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