Animated, effervescent, driven—all are adjectives that describe Saint Leo University alumna and instructor Keisha Armistead.
Armistead is an adjunct faculty member and a virtual curriculum instructor at the Fort Eustis (VA) Education Office. She teaches compensation, organizational training and development, risk management, recruitment, selection and placement, business principles of management, and human resources management in the evening while managing a demanding career at NASA.
In federal service at NASA for 25 years, she is lead management and program analyst for the Advance Composites Program at the NASA Langley Research Center, which specializes in government aeronautics, in Hampton, VA. “I’ve supported multiple launches and research and development projects,” Armistead says. “And I share a lot of that project management experience with the students. I keep them enthusiastic about becoming future leaders.”
As the “Friday night teacher” at Fort Eustis, Armistead said she knew she had to keep the students excited about being in a classroom and learning online. “I try to keep them involved,” Armistead explains. “I say, ‘I’d love to have a hot date, but now we are here to focus on our education.’ I understand where they’re coming from. I had to do it, too.”
On occasion, her furry friends, two Maltese named Sprocket and Klutchiz, wander into view on camera while she is teaching. “They break the ice with the students,” she comments. “We always have pet lovers in our virtual room and share during first night introductions.”
The dogs get their unique monikers from Armistead’s love of motorcycles. She formerly owned a motorcycle shop and drag-raced a modified Suzuki Hayabusa 1300 motorcycle. A YouTube video of her racing dubs her “Da Professa.”
The need for speed translates into her teaching as she focuses students on being efficient and effective. “It can be difficult,” she says of the mainly adult learners she teaches. “Many of my students still have to get dinner on the table before 5:30 while taking classes. I teach about app [for cellphones], shopping online.”
Armistead strives to keep a relaxed atmosphere for her online students while keeping them focused. “Even when we’re online, you have to focus on what you’re doing,” she says. “Students are trying to do laundry or other things at home hoping I don’t call their name. But I will! I talk fast!”
She earned her bachelor’s degree in management in 1999 from Saint Leo and her master’s degree in human resource management from Troy State University. In addition, she has completed some coursework in applied management and decision sciences from Walden University. Prior to studying at Saint Leo, she earned two associate degrees from Thomas Nelson Community College in Newport News, VA.
“I motivate my students,” Armistead says. “You should never stop learning. Keep taking classes. But not just through academia. Read, share your experiences with others, and formulate your legacy. Education is an ongoing process. It’s something everyone should continue.”
Armistead returned to teach at Saint Leo because she enjoyed the support she received while a student. “I really liked the fact that Saint Leo educators treated me like an adult. They treat you like family. If I had any difficulties, they reached out to do all they could to help me achieve my educational goals. It is a welcoming environment, and it worked.”
For her students, Armistead tries to relate learning objectives to issues going on in the workplace, home, or private lives of her students.
“The same techniques we are studying to use at work, we can do at home,” she explains. “It’s managing both your home and work life. In my organizational training and development class recently, I asked, ‘Who is responsible for your career?’ Some students said, ‘My boss.’ I said, ‘No, bosses are responsible for your work performance. They don’t care about you.’ You are responsible for your life and career. If you’re not happy, only one person has the real power to change it . . . you.”