From lawyer to soldier to teacher

Tell us about yourself.
I am Drew A. Neal. I hail from the great state of New Mexico, where I was born and have spent half my life. The other half was mostly spent in Illinois, where I graduated from high school and received my bachelor's, master's and law degree from the University of Illinois. I am a born-again Christian, married with three children. I have recently switched careers from trial attorney to teacher.

What is your current job at GTMO?
At GTMO, I am the highest ranking non-commissioned officer of the Joint Visitors Bureau, and I supervise a group of folks who work in that section. My job is not directly related to my military skills or my civilian jobs.

Please explain exactly what your military job is to those who don’t understand the military make-up.
In my job at GTMO, I arrange for and execute the planning and implementation of all arrangements needed for high-profile (VIP) visitors to the island. Visits require planning for lodging, meals, transportation, briefings and physical tours of various GTMO work locations.

How long have you been teaching?
I started teaching in the military in 1992, and as a trial attorney, I've been teaching juries since 1991. I started civilian classroom teaching in 2006. Prior to that, I taught as a graduate assistant in 1977 and 1978.

What is your biggest challenge as a college professor here at GTMO?
My greatest challenge teaching college at GTMO was putting my hands on teaching aids, manipulatibles, etc. to augment class lectures.

What is the biggest difference you see between students at GTMO and students in the States?
I believe students here are very similar to stateside students; the notable exception is that due to their military experience, many GTMO students tend to be better disciplined when exercising study habits and following through with assignments. Class participation may also be improved due to increased self-concept and maturity.

What do you enjoy most about teaching?
The biggest reward is watching the spark of learning begin to catch fire as ideas begin flowing. Application of learned principles intertwine to produce what is now an individualized understanding of the material taught and continue to inspire future learning.