Brent Phillips is a truly humble and passionate future educator, earning his degree in secondary education through Grand Canyon’s College of Education. Brent has a unique story as a U.S. veteran, and he has used his life and experiences to make a positive impact in the community. Specifically, with his love of astronomy, Brent is using his own self-funded astronomy outreach called VEGA to inspire and teach veterans and students of all ages.
Brent served in the Marine Corps until he was severely wounded. As troubling as his injury was, it gave him the opportunity to explore an interest he always had: astronomy. Brent decided to work as the weekend manager at the Challenger Space Center, where he got to know and work with many different astronauts. Eventually, he started studying the stars on his own and found a lot of peace in astrophotography. Putting in the work to get the perfect shot and avoiding star trails was very rewarding for Brent, which sparked his desire to give back and share this experience with others.
With this passion in his heart and the learned information that many schools could not afford the cost of providing students with astronomy viewing events, Brent created VEGA. Every Friday during the summer, Brent went to a local school’s summer camp and conducted a free solar observation for kids. A friend helped donate some equipment, and now Brent is sharing his time for both daytime solar viewings and nighttime space viewings. In fact, he has shared his expertise and equipment with people of all ages in all kinds of settings including elementary schools, high schools, colleges, church events and even random people on the sidewalk.
Brent was taking classes at a local community college before he decided to change his major and start his academic journey to becoming a high school teacher. Brent has excelled in the College of Education and even achieved the required GPA for membership in GCU’s prestigious Honors College. He described the community as being a “tighter group of people” because all students share the desire of giving back to the community. He said there is a general comradery that exists because as education majors, he and his peers are preparing for careers in the classroom for reasons much greater than the salary.
Brent will graduate in 2019 and is looking forward to getting into the classroom and teaching history. There, he hopes to tie in his passion for astronomy and show students that the same stars used throughout history for navigation, telling seasons, etc., are still above us today. His future students will certainly be lucky to have such an outstanding, servant-minded and dedicated teacher.
When asked what piece of advice he has found most helpful in his journey, Brent simply said, “Make the best of it.” Whether good or bad, make the best of your situation. Brent has exemplified this throughout his own life and encourages veterans and students to do the same.
Grand Canyon’s College of Education prepares future educators to teach and inspire their students. To learn more about available education programs, visit our website or use the Request More Information button on this page.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University.