Hometown Hero: Dr. Jose de Arimateia da Cruz

Hometown Hero: Dr. Jose de Arimateia da Cruz

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - A political science professor has been molding young minds for more than a decade in Savannah, and now he's teaching national and international leaders how to make critical decisions when it comes to national security.

Dr. Jose de Arimateia da Cruz is on a little bit of a summer break before he heads back to this second year at the US Army War College. He's been teaching at Armstrong State University for 12 years and his office is filled with plaques of appreciation but his students' education is fufillment enough for him.

He smiles when he thinks of his former students, "Our students in the political science department have gone on to the Patterson School of Diplomacy, some have gone on to law school so for me that's really exciting."

Out of dozens of applicants across the country, Dr. da Cruz was chosen to teach at the US Army War College's Strategic Studies Institute in Carlisle, Pennsylvania; he jokes about getting the call.

"I answered the phone, and they told me that they had received my application and congratulations, you've been selected, and Colonel Rick James will call you, and I thought, 'isn't that the musician?!"' He laughed.

But he did get a call and this past year, he's been teaching and working with military leaders on transnational organized crime and counterinsurgencies. He specializes in South American and African politics so he's been busy with Venezuelan unrest and the Islamic extremist group Boko Haram kidnapped the girls.

He discussed it a lot he explains, "Because that becomes a problem with the legitimacy of the government if a bunch of thugs or kidnapping people, and the government can't do anything, then people begin to resent those in power."

The end of the semester came full circle for Dr. da Cruz, when one of his students, a colonel from brazil, a fellow countryman, graduated from his class. On top of that, a Brazilian general from the US ambassy in Washington D.C. thanked da Cruz after the ceremony for his work.

"Just to hear from him to say thank you so much for working with him, for me that's, I don't think there's any money in the world." da Cruz said.

Copyright 2014 WTOC. All rights reserved.