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From the Mountains to the Air Force – Chris Hixson Reflects on His Time in the College of Natural Resources

Chris Hixson dressed in his Air Force Officer uniform

New alumnus, Chris Hixson, graduated in December of 2018 with a B.S. in Fisheries, Wildlife and Conservation Biology.  Below, he reflects on his time in the FWCB program and the connections he’s made with his college and military careers.

What are your plans after graduation? Do you have a job lined up?

I will be commissioning as an officer in the US Air Force after graduation and will report into Flight School in Texas this February.

How has the College of Natural Resources impacted you and prepared you for your first job?

The biggest lesson CNR gives students is beyond knowledge; the college teaches us how to think critically and effectively to meet the challenges of the modern world regardless of where we go or what we do after graduation.

What kind of research or other hands-on/in-the-field learning did you participated in?Chris Hixson poses for a graduation photo

I participated in summer 2016 FWCB camp which enabled me to get hands on experience from the coast to the mountains. We went trawling and deep sea fishing on the Crystal Coast; electro fishing PIT tagging and mist netting in the Piedmont; and AT hiking, stream snorkeling and mountain climbing in the Smokies.

What’s your favorite memory from your time at the College of Natural Resources?

My favorite memories in CNR come from the summer camp. Spending 6 weeks with the same group of people and having experiences which are unmatched by our colleagues in other majors. I can’t narrow it down to one, the whole program was amazing.

What was your favorite class at the College of Natural Resources? Why?

FW 311, 312, 313, 314: the summer camp classes.

Tell us about a faculty member who influenced you.

The most impactful professor I’ve had at NCSU was Vladimir Arkadeyevich Bilenkin. He was my Russian instructor for every class in the minor and he inspired me to think and operate with a global mindset. The strong work ethic and diversity of perspective he brought to class coupled with the stories he would often tell us of the Soviet Union made a strong impact on my time in college and my future career. He legitimately cares for all of his students both as pupils and as people. He didn’t just teach, he developed me professionally and went beyond his job description to write me up for several awards and secure me a phenomenal study abroad experience in Latvia/Lithuania.

What advice would you give incoming freshmen?

My top advice is to take advantage of every opportunity. College is not about taking classes, it’s about the doors those classes and the university opens for you. NCSU does a wonderful job of placing students in direct contact with professionals in the field and building networks for us. Honestly it would be difficult to graduate without a job lined up. Stress should not define your college experience. With all situations there are two options: either A, you can do something about it, so do it or B, you can’t do anything about it so stressing won’t help. Focus on solutions not problems.

Photo Credit: Hannah Fletcher Photography