Balancing responsibilities can be quite the challenge for most students, but to succeed in and outside of the classroom is even rarer. PSIA major, Zachary Navara, did just that when he graduated with national honors as a Distinguished Military Graduate, which means that when ranked against all other cadets in all ROTC programs across the nation, he performed within the top 10%.   In this interview, Navara discussed how he balanced his responsibilities as a member of the. Corp with is academic coursework.


Newsletter contributor Dr. Chris Kroh interviewed Zachary


How did you balance all of these responsibilities?

Zachary Navara: “Having my plate constantly full with Corps of Cadets responsibilities, academic priorities, and personal ventures helped instill different values such as time management, priority planning, and dedication to work.”


Tell us about some other military awards you received at UNG

Navara: “I also received: the Military Officers Association of America Award, the Special Forces Association Joe Alderman Memorial Chapter, and the LIX-59 Award for Military Excellence. What allowed me to do as well as I did in the cadet program and be nominated for awards and honors is my multiple leadership positions I held within the Corps of Cadets such as Alpha First Sergeant and the Brigade Command Sergeant Major, as well as my participation in the Mountain Order of Colombo specialty unit for all 4 years.”


Besides wining multiple awards, you are also a past winner of the NATO Defense College internship. What was that experience like?

Navara: “The NATO Defense College is located in Rome, Italy and runs different lecture/participation courses for senior diplomats and high ranking military officers from NATO countries and NATO partner countries. The course that I worked with was named the NATO Regional Cooperation Course and was comprised of about 39 different participants from countries such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, Ukraine, Morocco, and the UAE, just to name a few. The main purpose of the course was to create a dialogue between these different nations and encourage partnership and cooperation. Some of the topics included Israel and Palestine politics, the Libya disaster, and the role of the United States in the Middle East.


What did you learn from this course and how did the PSIA department and courses help you to prepare for it?

Navara: “Overall it was very rewarding to get to see people from so many different cultures that many people in the United States will never get to interact with and talk about such interesting topics. I’m very grateful for Dr. Miner and the political science department for giving me the opportunity to experience that internship. I feel that the PSIA department prepared me very well by giving me a good base of political knowledge for international scenarios, which enabled me to better understand the different political processes that I was observing.”


In what other ways did majoring in political science help to prepare you in achieving your goals?

Navara: “The PSIA department helped me a great deal with making me successful by instilling academic discipline into my life. There were too many research papers to count that I had to complete in my 4 years and each one required extensive, reliable resources, which forced me to pay attention to details and put in the effort if I wanted to succeed.”


What general advice would you give current PS majors?

Navara: “There is a lot of research that goes in to being successful in this field, but a very reassuring sentiment is that the professors and staff of the PSIA department are always willing to help and give your research a nudge in the right direction. “It is important to accept that some classes require more extensive amounts of studying than others. Put in the time for all of your assignments and exams if you want to make the grade you deserve. Most importantly: approach the professor and ask questions if something is not clear, sooner, rather than later.”

Navara is a 2018 graduate with a BA in international affairs (Europe).