BTU #50 – Aileen Teague: Marines to Fulbright Scholar to PhD Student

“I know that sounds really broad, but that’s what people in academia are doing – it’s knowledge production. It’s not just sitting around sitting on a beach chair reading and thinking ‘I love foreign policy’ it’s actually reading some of the dry stuff, engaging with others, writing, thinking and seeing whether or not you agree with the way we see things now and if you don’t, do you know ways to change the way we look at things.”
 – Aileen Teague

Aileen Teague is a Ph.D. Candidate at Vanderbilt University, where she studies, U.S. and Latin American History. She will finish her doctoral studies next summer and move toward her ambition of being a history professor. She teaches history at both Vanderbilt University and Nashville State Community College. She serves as an assistant coach on the marksmanship teach of the Nashville all boy’s school Montgomery Bell Academy.

She started out at Boston University where she studied History and participated in the NROTC program. After this she served for 4 years active duty and then 4 years as a reservist as an officer in the US Marine Corps. After leaving the Marine Corps, she earned a Masters of Arts in History at Vanderbilt, and received a Fulbright Scholarship that took her to Mexico City to conduct research on Mexico’s experience with the U.S. war on drugs over the course of 10 months. Since returning from Mexico Aileen has published various opinion pieces on her research and continues to write her dissertation, which focuses on the effects of U.S. drug control policies in 1970s Mexico.
In this conversation, we cover a lot of topics, including:

  • An overview of life as a PhD student
  • Having so much unstructured time, how Aileen structures her day
  • How to prepare financially to give yourself time to find what you want to do
  • Some typical career paths post-PhD
  • An overview of the Fulbright Scholarship
  • And much, much more…

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Show Notes

  • 2:16 – Aileen’s background
  • 3:53 – An overview of life as a PhD student
  • 5:12 – Having so much unstructured time, how Aileen structures her day
  • 7:07 – How long a PhD process takes
  • 10:25 – How Aileen knew she wanted to pursue a PhD
  • 14:16 – How to prepare financially to give yourself time to find what you want to do
  • 16:06 – Side jobs that come to mind as ways to generate side income
  • 20:06 – What the PhD application process looks like
  • 23:15 – What Aileen plans to do after her PhD
  • 25:27 – Some typical career paths post-PhD
  • 29:03 – Indications that you may love life as a PhD… and indications that you may not like it
  • 31:58 – The hardest part of pursuing a PhD
  • 35:05 – Advice for veterans pursuing a PhD
  • 36:46 – How Aileen decided to leave the Marine Corps
  • 37:47 – An overview of the Fulbright Scholarship
  • 45:57 – Advice to any veteran considering applying for a Fulbright Scholarship
  • 48:00 – The more surprising aspects of Aileen’s transition to civilian life
  • 50:44 – Final words of wisdom