39-year-old Airman with doctorate arrives at AFTAC

  • Published
  • By Susan A. Romano
  • AFTAC Public Affairs
Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas, is home to Air Force Basic Military Training, and on any given day, there are more than 7,000 new recruits undergoing the 7-week program.
The average age of trainees who undergo the Air Force’s introduction to military service is 21.
In October 2022, however, Flight 039 from Squadron 433 had a particularly unusual trainee report for BMT:  a 39-year-old former college professor with a Ph.D. in Kinesiology.  Trainee Ryan Miskowiec reported for duty after temporarily saying goodbye to his wife and four children who remained in Baton Rouge.
But first, let’s backtrack.
Miskowiec earned his bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees in Kinesiology from Louisiana State University, with concentrations in Exercise Physiology and Bioenergetics.  In between his extensive studies and degree programs, he also found time to work as a graduate assistant, emergency medical technician, strength coach, personal trainer, and tutor.  Immediately following his doctoral studies, he served as an assistant professor at Lewis University of Romeoville, Ill.
Still, despite the demanding workload and professional career progression, he knew he wanted more out of life.
“In 2018 I made the decision to pivot to a long-held call to service,” Miskowiec said.  “I’ve always felt drawn to the military, and the Air Force in particular.  It helped having several generations of men in my family who have served in some capacity as influencers.  My great grandfather joined the chemical weapon service during World War I after emigrating from Poland; my grandfather was a torpedoman during World War II; and my father was a detective for the Los Angeles Police Department. 
As the first generation in his family to go to college, he said his parents were thrilled that he opted to earn his college diploma, but achieving those milestones didn’t shake his desire to enlist.
“Before I met with my recruiter, I did my homework on the types of jobs the Air Force had to offer,” he said.  “I created spreadsheets with all the different position descriptions and requisites and poured over them for days.  Based on all my research, I came to the conclusion that becoming a Scientific Applications Specialist (or 9S100 as AFTAC Airmen are best known) would be the best fit for me.”
Miskowiec said his recruiter was unfamiliar with that particular job series, and he ended up being slotted to become a Cybernetworks Analyst.
“As luck would have it, my BMT Training Instructor asked me to escort another trainee to meet with a reclassification officer after learning his clearance was disapproved,” he explained.  “Since I was known as the ‘Dorm Dad,’ and since this trainee was really broken up about losing the job he wanted, my T.I. thought I would be the best person to help him select a different job.  While there, I thought I’d take a shot and ask about any openings that may have come up for the 9S100 career field.  Turns out someone had dropped out and the reclassification officer slid me right into the slot!”
After earning top graduate honors from BMT, Miskowiec headed to Goodfellow AFB, Texas, to undergo technical training, where he also excelled academically and learned a lot about electronic principles, applied sciences, computer and network fundamentals, phenomenology, and the Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance enterprise as a whole.
In May 2023, the professor-turned-Airman joined the Air Force Technical Applications Center as a Geophysical Data Analyst, assigned to the 22nd Surveillance and Analysis Squadron, where he’s responsible for analyzing seismic data and phenomenology in support of AFTAC’s global nuclear treaty monitoring mission.
His supervisor had nothing but praise for his subordinate.
“A1C Miskowiec is an extraordinary Airman who has exemplified his devotion to serving our country,” said Staff Sgt. LaVonn Benjamin, Noncommissioned Officer in Charge of 22nd SURS’ tactics and training.  “He brings his experience and great leadership qualities to the AFTAC operations center after serving as a college professor for several years.”
Benjamin added, “In his time as a professor, he chaired and played a key role in establishing many student body organizations and will be an extremely valuable asset to the squadron, not only as a technician, but as a mentor and team player. We look forward to continuing to watch Ryan grow into a leader in the unit.”
So where does a 39-year-old Ph.D. with a long professional track record and demonstrated leadership skills under his belt go from here?  Is a commission on the horizon?
“I’m not dogmatically set on commissioning versus remaining enlisted,” he said.  “I feel that my skills and life experience will be most exploited in leadership positions.  I try not to plan too far ahead; instead, I’m all about flexibility and positioning myself to have options.  But I’ll certainly apply in hopes my package will be considered.”