Tell us about yourself:
I proudly served in the Navy for 14 years, while in the Navy I completed four deployments to the Persian Gulf. Traveling the world was a wonderful experience. I enjoy playing softball and volleyball. While inn, I played on every team that I could, during one season I played on 3 separate softball teams. I was a volunteer firefighter, and very involved with my commands. I like to consider myself as an active, positive and energetic person. Now at 33 years old I try to keep up with sports however, most of my energy goes to my wonderful two year old son.
What prompted you to return to school?
While on active duty I was able to use the tuition assistance program and enroll in some classes. I was limited to the amount of classes that I had desired to take due to the demands of my duties. Knowing this, it was always my goal to continue my education when I separated. Therefore I enrolled in the fall semester at Fredonia directly after getting out.
Why did you choose State University of New York at Fredonia?
I choose State University of Fredonia for a couple of reasons, I was born and raised in Fredonia so wanted to move home to raise my son in this town. Another reason is because the friendly atmosphere that the campus provides. The class rooms average 25-30 students, this allows a more personal setting, and I get to know the other students that I am in class with.
What military education benefits, such as the GI Bill, did you use?
I use the Post 9/11 GI Bill.
What has your experience been like as a student?
My experience here at Fredonia is what I expected and more. As a student I am well respected and the professors keep me engaged. When I choose this school I was unaware of the support the school provides for us Veterans. Including a proficient veteran’s affairs office along with a lounge designated for those who are using veteran’s educational benefits.
What challenges did you have adjusting to campus culture after military life?
Some challenges that I have encountered is the age difference, I am at least ten years older than the average student and this was intimidating at first, I would get irritated with some of the “kids” and it was hard adjusting to the time management of others, What I mean by that is while in the military I was used to getting to work 10-15 minutes early, this is not normal for the average college student. Also the transition of being a supervisor and being in charge to sitting behind the desk taking notes was difficult.
Do you believe your military experience has made you a better student?
Yes. I feel that I have an advantage, the training that the military provided me with and the challenges that I faced while in has prepared me for any situation, including stress management, time management, and people skills. I feel that I am more focused than some of my fellow classmates. Additionally I feel that I am a good asset to the class room, being the critical thinker that I am now (thanks to the Navy) I am able to contribute to the lectures and share some ideas.
What advice do you have for veterans returning to school?
Some advice that I have is don’t wait, some people want a break once they get off active duty. This break is well deserved however, can put you behind, a few months turn into a year, that year turns into two… and so forth. Getting enrolled right away helps the transition; you are connecting with people and the campus. Going from constant demands of the military to nothing is a dynamic difference, the steps onto a campus is a little less demanding but keeps you engaged in something, elevating the possibility of feeling lonely and lost.