Andrew Knox, a husband, father and combat veteran (Iraq, 2004-2005), used to tell the men in his charge, “Don’t come to me with problems only.”
The importance of Black History Month, he says, is “Progress. Honor. Building on the shoulders of the people who came before you. Being thankful for the opportunities that they fought for, [and] loving my brothers and sisters from the community, and respecting the heritage of those not from my community.”
After eight years in the Arkansas National Guard, he chose a career in information technology (IT). Today, he’s an IT specialist on Windstream’s campus in Little Rock.
Where I’m from, Blytheville, there wasn’t a lot of opportunity outside of factories, farming and steel. I tried factories and steel, and I didn’t like it much, but it’s a part of my heritage.
You have to honor your heritage. Your ancestors did so much to provide a way for you, you don’t want to dishonor them. You want a professional career. Don’t accept mediocrity.
My mother worked in a nursing home, 15 years, then got a nursing degree. My father was married at 20 like me, and he worked in the factories there his entire life. It’s not like we needed or wanted … but in terms of climbing those stairs — absolutely. They are absolutely part of the ancestors I’m talking about when I say I don’t want to dishonor their contribution.
Knox spoke about what a career in IT is like.
What happens in IT when you get an education or a certification, you get a foundation. From there, you’re thrown in the fire. You have to constantly find solutions, and it’s not always as your training predicted.
At Windstream, we’re racing all the time. It’s constantly, “Learn this …,” and when you think you’ve got a problem licked, the next thing you know something else happens and takes the wind out of your sails. At the same time, it’s rewarding. You have to enjoy the small battles because you’re never going to “arrive.” I’m actually back in school now for cyber security. You have to be content learning. It’s more introspective than technical.
For other thoughts on Black History Month, visit businessblog.windstream.com.