Max Sandoval, Director of Embry-Riddle Prescott’s Marketing and Communications, recently interviewed, two star general, Major General Thomas J. Trask to discuss his thoughts on being asked to make the commencement speech as well as his thoughts about his time with Embry-Riddle.
Max: How do you feel about being asked to speak at the commencement at the Prescott Campus?
General Trask: Truthfully, I was completely shocked and it was a thrill to be asked. Being asked to speak at such an event was such a surprise. The thought never crossed my mind.
Max: Without giving away too much can you please tell me what topics you are going to be speaking about in your commencement speech?
General Trask: The topics of interest will include things I learned at both campuses. I went to Daytona Beach as well as Prescott and while they are very different, the things that I learned are similar. So, one of the topics will be “what I learned at Embry-Riddle” and the most important thing that I learned was how to resolve problems. My degree program forced me to learn about the how to resolve problems that are placed in front of you. I really got a license to learn how to resolve problems.
Max: What is an example of the toughest hurdle you have had to overcome in your career or life?
General Trask: My toughest hurdle was the realization that life is a team sport. You need to make the team better and realize what you can contribute. You realize success involves making the team better.
Max: What is the motivation that lies at the core of who you are that pushes you to achieve?
General Trask: Several factors motivate me however the factor which I reflect on the most is the ability I have to affect young people. That is the greatest motivating factor that pushes me to excel. Young people can and will change the world and I can shape their minds and the things they do to achieve success and develop others around them. I love being involved in shaping a person’s life, whether through the military or another professional career.
Once I retire I would love to get back into education and continue to help young people.
Max: So, your previous answer is a great segway into my next question – where do you see your career going in the future – possibly after the military?
General Trask: The military has been a wonderful career and I never would have thought of seeing myself in the position I am in now. When I return to civilian life I would ideally like to get into the university environment in an administrative role. Education is extremely important.
Max: What advice do you have for current ROTC students?
General Trask: For the new officers in ROTC, have a plan that is flexible. It is such a critical time to come into the military and a mindset that has the discipline and the mindset. It is an exciting time to be in the military.
Max: Looking back, what are some unexpected benefits?
General Trask: Greatest unexpected benefits were the connections I would experience. I went to both DB and PR and had friends and contacts at both. To this day I still use this network because it has uses in every industry. It is a great resource.
Max: Looking back when you first started studying, where did you think your education would take you?
General Trask: My plan was coming in on an ROTC scholarship and my plan was to be an engineer and serve in the military and then go out into the private industry. I got the flight training at Riddle and thought I could go back to engineering. And never dreamed I would be in the military 30 years and still love it.