FAMU professor uses upbringing as inspiration for her career

Health, leisure and fitness professor, Kristine Fleming advocates for diversity
Photo Submitted by Tracey Belizaire

Raised in a military household, and now working alongside military communities at Florida A&M University, professor Kristine Fleming strives to showcase the meaning of diversity within her career in recreation.

At a young age, Fleming was already walking in her calling. She’s traveled to South Africa, Paris, Belgium, Romania and Germany. And being that she works at a predominantly black institution, Fleming noted she believed in the importance of advocating on behalf of the African-American and black community.

“Being an advocate and an ally is what’s important and being here at FAMU makes me understand it a little more,” Fleming said.

Fleming grew up in a multicultural household with a Korean mother and Caucasian father. They met in Korea and soon after moved to Tennessee, where Fleming was born. At the age of four, Fleming and her family moved to Washington D.C.

Her father, who was also the child of a military parent, understood the toll of moving from place to place. Fleming recalled her father decided to leave his family for 10 years to finish his military contract.

“He was a helicopter pilot in Colombia, Saudi Arabia, Germany, everywhere but Washington,” Fleming said. “He didn't want us moving around everywhere.”

Although, Fleming enjoyed being raised by her mother, they struggled to find others of Korean descent. Fleming recalled how church became a place where she could find other children just like her.

“I grew up going to church all the time because for my mom,” Fleming said. “That's where she would find Korean people and there were mixed kids too.”

Throughout her childhood participating in sports, and outdoor activities developed her passion for health, leisure and recreational fitness. Fleming contributed her career to her mother who took a variety of dance, fitness, and art classes at the community centers around the neighborhood. This had an impact on Fleming’s desire to further her education and pursue a career in leisure and recreation.

In the Fall of 2016, chair and associate professor of the Department of Health and Physical Education, Sarah Price, offered Fleming a job at FAMU within the health, leisure and fitness program. Price expressed she was still glad she made the decision.

“It is an ongoing delight to work with her, she is great for our program,” said Price

Fleming has since been introduced to Camp Adventure, which is a wide variety of recreational programs for children living on military bases. It was at Camp Adventure she realized she did not want to work just inside the classroom, and after school programs like the Boys and Girls Club and the YMCA began to interest her.

Fleming is now the head adviser for FAMU Camp Adventure, and is currently working as the placement chair, who assigns all Camp Adventure participants to their designated military base for their desired term.

Camp Adventure counselor, Faith St. Hilaire, noted how Fleming is well-organized and pays attention to detail.

“She makes sure you get the job done,” Hilaire said. “She’s on top of everything.”

For Fleming, teaching at an HBCU was a once in a lifetime opportunity and compared to other job offers, FAMU was best fit for her lifestyle. Fleming’s job includes implementing a variety of coursework and activities that assist students in learning about recreation and leisure.

By working with different military communities and HBCU students, Fleming continues to see the need for diverse recreational programs and aspires to enhance the experience, one program at a time.