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Put Down the Shovel

Soldier studying a textbook.

When your mission goes from combat to finding a civilian job, how do you handle that change? In this week's podcast episode, we talk to veterans Mike Kulikowski and Phil Terry-Smith, Ph.D. about the struggles and successes veterans have transitioning to civilian, sometimes academic life.

This powerful episode goes beyond its primary topic as Phil Terry-Smith also discusses his experiences teaching and the importance of finding your spark. “I know that there's at least one or two students sitting in that room that need to hear, ‘Chase your passion, don't stop learning. You can do this.'”

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Our Guests

Mike Kulikowski

Mike Kulikowski, AACC Homeland Security student and U.S. Army veteran

Mike Kulikowski is a retired, disabled veteran who served in the U.S. Army during the Cold War. Kulikowski likes to joke, “I learned Russian so you didn’t have to.” As a civilian, Kulikowski has worked in a video arcade, an ice cream parlor and a test lab. He’s been a door-to-door salesman, a security guard, programmer, hardware installer, system integrator, program manager and a technical writer.

Kulikowski came to AACC to gain the knowledge he needed for a new career. With the help of the Veterans Administration, he’s completing  an A.A.S. in Homeland Security Management with a concentration in Intelligence Analytics. By adding a few classes, Kulikowski will graduate this December with three degrees, all under the Homeland Security Management Institute. He currently has a 4.0 GPA and is a member of Phi Theta Kappa. Kulikowski also volunteers at the AACC Military/Veteran Resource Center, Room 112 in the Truxal Library.

Kulikowski plays competitive pinball (currently ranked 34th of 507 in Maryland and 2221st of 73,634 players worldwide). He rides a Concord Purple 2002 Harley Road King — or did until an accident sent him to Shock Trauma with a broken leg. His wife and two of his four cats want him to stop riding. The other two cats couldn’t care less.

Our Guest

Phil Terry-Smith, Ph.D.

Phil Terry-Smith, AACC assistant dean, veteran and professor

Social psychologist, lecturer, teacher, philanthropist, theologist, emergency manager, humanist, contrarian, humanitarian, military officer, father, husband, Afro/indigenous American, musician, gay, motorcycle riding, leather wearing — HUMAN. Philip B. Terry-Smith is the assistant dean for Social Sciences, Philosophy and Interdisciplinary Studies in the School of Liberal Arts at AACC. He’s been on faculty since 1992, full time since 2013. He's a lieutenant colonel in the Maryland Defense Force, Maryland Military Department. He holds a Ph.D. in organizational and social systems, a nonacademic doctor of theology (Th.D.) degree in comparative spirituality, is a licensed professional counselor, certified trauma professional and master emergency management specialist.


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