Jeremy P. Amick is the public affairs officer for the Silver Star Families of America.
In addition to his work as full-time state employee, Columbia resident Keener Tippin spends many of his off-duty hours volunteering as a basketball coach and pursuing a second master’s degree.
And, as the veteran asserts, many of the lessons learned during his service in the Air Force have helped deliver success in these endeavors.
A native of the Mid-Missouri area, Tippin graduated from Hickman High School in 1979 but did not immediately embark upon a military career; he first chose to enroll at Lincoln University.
While in college, he worked at the former Chesebrough-Pond plant and performed an internship with KRCG-13’s engineering department before graduating with a journalism degree in late 1984.
“I couldn’t find a job at the time,” Tippin notes, “and I had a young son to provide for. So I decided to join the Air Force because blue seemed to be a good color for me,” he jokingly remarked.
After completing his boot camp in Texas, the young enlistee traveled to Sheppard Air Force Base at Wichita Falls, Texas, to complete his advanced training in medical administration.
In late 1985, he received his first duty assignment at Whiteman Air Force Base, which, the former airman explained, allowed him to remain near to his young son.
Throughout the remainder of his enlistment, Tippin worked at the base hospital performing various tasks such as maintaining medical records, coding medical procedures and processing awards for members of his squadron.
When his enlistment expired in 1989, he joined the Air Force Reserve to pursue an opportunity that had not been available to him while on active duty.
“I was able to become a public-affairs specialist; a change that really built upon my personal interests and my degree in journalism,” Tippin said.
The next three years were eventful for the part-time airman as he was married, worked part time for a radio station and began taking master’s level coursework in communications at then-Central Missouri State University.
He left the reserves in 1992 to accompany his wife — who was an active duty Air Force member — overseas for a one-year assignment to Italy.
Moving to Kansas the following year, Tippin began working as a county government reporter and features editor for a newspaper in Manhattan, Kan., before accepting a job for a paper in Topeka as a military and features reporter.
Later spending a one-year stint as a counselor for a junior high school, the veteran was hired by Kansas State University in 1997 and spent the next 10 years marketing and writing about the school’s science research program.
In early 2007, he was hired by the Missouri Department of Economic Development’s communications section in Jefferson City where is still employed.
Having completed a master’s degree in athletics administration from William Woods in 2011, Tippin is now working toward a master’s in teaching at Columbia College with a specific objective in mind.
“My ultimate goal,” Tippin remarked, “is to someday become a high school athletics director.”
In his free time, the married father of seven children enjoys volunteering his time to teach area youth the fundamentals of basketball through his coaching of youth teams.
Throughout his continuing education, Tippin maintains certain concepts instilled during his time in service have been advantageous.
“Life is busy, and trying to coordinate your time between work, family and school can be strenuous and demanding,” he said. “But the military provides you with excellent time management training.”
Outside the classroom, the veteran explains his voluntary endeavors have also benefited from his service.
“The Air Force is focused on the mission, and it’s the same with basketball — you can’t just have an offense chucking shots toward the basket or a defense running around without a plan.
“By using the structure and discipline instilled through the Air Force, I am able to devise a plan to accomplish our mission on the court and succeed at getting points up on the board.”