One donor pays it forward with endowed education grants

Dr. David Tansik learned early on about the challenges of military life. He was born on Scott Air Force Base during WWII and lived on military bases until he left for college. Dr. Tansik’s father served in the Air Force and retired as an active duty Master Sergeant and reserve Major in 1961.

As an Air Force “brat,” he remembers having a unique childhood because of numerous PCS moves. “I lived in many places and attended 15 different schools in the 12 years from kindergarten through high school,” says Dr. Tansik. Because of the moves, he attended three different high schools.

When it was time to apply for college in 1960, finances were very tight, so his father told him about the Air Force Aid Society’s (AFAS) Gen. Henry “Hap” Arnold Education Program.

“For a variety of reasons the support I received in the 1960s when I needed financial help, allowed me to attend the University of Illinois for my freshman and sophomore years,” said Dr. Tansik. “Then I transferred to the University of Texas where I completed my junior and senior years working in numerous jobs and with help from the Society.”

He credits the support from AFAS for allowing him to attend college and graduate. “The loans and scholarships I received kept me in school. Otherwise, I probably would have had to drop out,” he said.

It was at the University of Texas that Dr. Tansik began working for Professor Floyd Brandt to help pay for college. He recalls that during many conversations with Professor Brandt he mentioned that Northwestern University was the school he had always dreamed of attending.

“In my final semester, Professor Brandt called me into his office and asked what I was going to do after graduation. I told him I was interviewing for jobs.” He added that Professor Brandt told him, “You can forget that you’re going to get a Ph.D. from Northwestern. I have friends there and you are already admitted with a full-ride fellowship for as long as it takes you.”

Dr. Tansik received a National Defense Education Act graduate fellowship that covered all of his expenses.

After earning his Ph.D. degree in 1970, Dr. Tansik began teaching at the University of Arizona in the Eller College of Management and after 40 years he retired.

Dr. Tansik and his wife have established several endowed education grants with the Society to help the next generation of Air Force dependents attend college and “hopefully have a better life,” he said.

“The help AFAS gave me in those difficult times has led me to be supportive of AFAS now that I’m able,” said Dr. Tansik. “It’s my way of saying ‘thank you’ to AFAS for that help.”

He added, “I want to say ‘thank you’ to the people who helped me. But most of those people are gone now. So by paying it forward, I’m saying ‘thank you’ by doing for others what was done for me. I hope the students we help now will do the same and help others later on.”

Incorporated in 1942, the Air Force Aid Society (AFAS) continues to meet the unique needs of Airmen and Guardians. AFAS works to support and enhance the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Space Force missions by providing emergency financial assistance, educational support, and community programs to Air Force and Space Force families. In 2020, AFAS provided over $12.5 million in assistance to more than $26,000 Air Force and Space Force families. Visit to learn more, apply for assistance, or to donate.