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P SouniaLieutenant Colonel Phillip D. Sounia is one of the Chief of Staff of the Army’s Doctoral Fellows in the Advanced Strategic Planning and Policy Program.  He is currently in the third year of the doctoral program in Public Policy – Global Issues.  He previously served as a Squadron Commander in the 82nd Airborne Division and was recently selected for Brigade Command and promotion to Colonel (May 2017).


1. What is the biggest difference you’ve noticed in transitioning from military life to civilian life? 

The greatest difference between civilian and military life is in communicating with those around you.  In the military, you acknowledge everyone you pass – you make eye contact and initiate a greeting of some kind, your lives are bonded together through a series of daily team experiences and you are always in a position where you are undoubtedly dependent upon another’s actions.  The oddest thing for me in the civilian world was how little people communicate.  People may pass each other everyday or sit together in class and never speak to each other.  People seem very isolated.   I would encourage each of us to simply say hello – the more all of us communicate, the more each of us will be open to each other’s ideas, the more we will learn and the stronger our bonds will remain in the future.

2. What is something you wish you had known before moving here?

I wish I knew more about the military and summer programs associated with UNC and Duke University. There a number of programs developed to assist military members or that incorporate a host of active –duty military officers.  I wish I had better visibility on them throughout the year so that I could help strengthen the bonds we all already share.  I also wish I had been more aware of the complimentary programs at UNC throughout the breaks and during summer.

3. What is an important lesson that you learned in the military that has helped you in grad school? 

The most important lesson I brought with me from the military was the ability to remain calm during stressful situations and to leverage anxiety into productivity.

4. What made you choose UNC/NC when deciding on a program/place to study?

I selected UNC-Public Policy based on the faculty, curriculum and the alumni that came before me.  UNC – Public Policy holds a phenomenal faculty with a breadth of experience that stretches across the academic spectrum.  The organizational construct and leadership leverages this knowledge and enables an inclusive environment that integrates knowledge into comprehensive policy designs.


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