The University of Maryland was ranked the 60th “Best for Vets” college in the country by the Military Times for its commitment to students of service this month.
UMD Veteran Student Life has created a family-oriented network on campus, contributing to its veteran-friendly environment. Referring to them as “non-traditional non-traditional” students, the department realizes that these vets come to UMD with a variety of life experiences. Therefore, Veteran Student Life offers its students a varieties of opportunities and resources to assist them in both their academic and personal lives.
“Our mission is to enhance their mind, body, and spirit, as they transition in-and-out of college,” Coordinator of Veteran Student Life Brian Bertges said.
One aspect of student veteran life on campus is the STEM tutoring program provided by the department. With vets ranging from their late 20s to early 40s, these students are sometimes decades removed from algebra and science. Allowing one session per week, tutors are able to assist in subjects ranging from college algebra to organic chemistry. Along with community service, academics remain as a high priority for its student veterans.
The department also provides scholarship opportunities. Funded by donors and alumni, these opportunities are not only available for the students, but also for their families. Just this year, Veteran Student Life has allocated almost $140,000 to 35 veterans.
One scholarship recipient in recent years is graduate Ryan Scott. Scott is also the former President of Terp Vets, a student-run organization that support veterans on and off campus.
“Veteran Student Life is incredible,” Scott said. As an undergraduate, he used his time on campus to cultivate a family environment and connect vets who share similar experiences.
Through the Veterans Housing Scholarship, Scott was awarded two years of free housing in the University View apartments off campus. In his time on campus, the former president of Terp Vets was able to help establish the “Veterans Crisis Fund,” given to students who seek immediate financial support.
When asked to sum up his experience on campus: “Family, security and opportunity.”
The current President of Terp Vets, Devin Carroll, can attest to the significance of having a family environment.
“It would‘ve been a rough transition if it weren’t for Veteran Student Life,” Carroll said.
Some veterans struggle with the transition from military to student life, Carroll said, and the staff provides support, care and a welcoming attitude. These vets, who are typically older than the average UMD student, have lost friends, toured the world and even created families of their own. Because veterans have a unique background, Student Veteran Life invests in these students with extra resources like counseling and team building activities.
The Veteran Student Life department looks to continue providing opportunities to improve the college experience of its veterans. After not cracking the “Best for Vets: Colleges” list last year, Carroll described this year’s acknowledgement as “a distinction we’ve been fighting a long time for.”
The student veterans on campus will have much to celebrate as Maryland’s 2016 Veterans Week kicks off on November 6.
For the full Best for Vets: Colleges 2017 rankings go to: www.militarytimes.com/bestforvets-colleges2017.