Fredrick P. Varney
Program Type/Area of Study: Adult, Juvenile & Community Corrections Leadership
Years Served: 17
MOS: Public Affairs NCO
Tell us about yourself:
Life as a student-soldier at EKU was made easier because the faculty and staff genuinely cared.
What prompted you to return to school?
During my senior year of high school I decided to join the Kentucky Army National Guard because they offered 100% free college tuition to any soldier wishing to enroll in a state-funded university. I chose an on-campus bachelor’s degree program at Eastern Kentucky University because the school had a very distinguished reputation for their law enforcement programs in Police Studies and Criminal Justice. In 2006, I was hired by the Federal Bureau of Prisons in Lexington, KY and I decided that I wanted to advance my career as a correctional professional. As a result, I enrolled in the EKU Online graduate program in Adult, Juvenile, and Community Corrections Leadership and received my master’s degree in December 2013.
What military education benefits, such as the GI Bill, did you use?
G.I. Bill; The GI Bill allowed me to finish both my undergraduate and graduate degrees at EKU by covering the majority of my day-to-day college expenses. For example, it covered my book fees, lab fees, grocery bills, living expenses, etc. It afforded me a great deal of financial freedom that allowed me to focus on my studies.
What has your experience been like as a student?
My experience was extremely positive. EKU’s faculty and administrative staff were phenomenal in terms of feedback and support. My education prepared me to meet the many challenges facing correctional professionals today. The Adult, Juvenile, and Community Corrections Leadership Program changed my perspective in the way that I deal with both correctional staff and incarcerated offenders on a daily basis. Additionally, I have been promoted three times over the last 18 months and I’m in the process of relocating to Talladega, AL for a new position with the Federal Bureau of Prisons.
What challenges did you have adjusting to campus culture after military life?
Life after 9/11 was difficult for most soldiers because we were constantly being deployed both state-side and overseas in support of military operations. Transitioning roles from college student to soldier and then from soldier to student was probably difficult for most students including myself. However, life as a student-soldier at EKU was made easier because the faculty and staff genuinely cared and also encouraged military students to continue their academic programs.
Do you believe your military experience has made you a better student?
What advice do you have for veterans returning to school?
My advice for military members considering online education would be to take advantage of the resources available to them. The GI Bill, Post 9/11 benefits, Federal Tuition Assistance, and State Tuition assistance are all there to assist military members and veterans in earning their degree. Online education is changing the way students are able to earn their degrees and it can have an ever-lasting impact on your professional career goals.
As an alumnus of Eastern Kentucky University I am proud to have been a part of this exceptional academic institution. Having earned both my undergraduate and graduate degrees there, I would greatly encourage other students and military personnel to consider EKU as an option. Moreover, the university employs an extremely knowledgeable and committed faculty that wants to help students succeed.