Military veterans pursue studies at Georgian Court

From Wikimedia Commons, by Ildar Sagdejev  [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)

Over the past five years, the number of military veterans and their relatives who are using the education benefits available to them has nearly doubled from 550,000 to 925,000. As calls for a “smaller and leaner” military are answered, more veterans are gravitating to college. Higher education institutions like Georgian Court, which was named a Military Friendly School for 2014 by Victory Media, a veteran-owned business and publisher of G.I. Jobs and the Guide to Military Friendly Schools, enjoy an advantage.

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One of those students is Marine Corps veteran Joe Hess. Joe joined the military right after high school, leaving home only four days after graduation to follow his grandfather’s “shining example of what is right.”

After six years, including a nearly 10-month tour of duty in Al Asad, Iraq, where he worked in motor transportation making fuel supply runs into often dangerous territory, Joe returned to college. The slightly unconventional and occasionally blue-Mohawked student/musician transferred to GCU from Ocean County College and is pursuing his dream of teaching mathematics.

“I want to teach high schoolers the subject they may dread and get them to enjoy math,” says Joe, who also professes a love for writing.

New Benefits, Extended Reach

In 2009–2010, Georgian Court added another benefit for veterans with its participation in the Yellow Ribbon Program. The program allows students who are fully eligible for the Post-9/11 GI Bill to attend private colleges and universities. GCU is allotted 20 annual spots (undergraduate and graduate combined), first come, first served.

Air Force veteran MaryClare DiMaggio is making the most of the Yellow Ribbon program, now in its fourth year at GCU. More than a decade ago she was attending community college part time and working full time, had college loan debt, and didn’t feel like she was getting ahead. At age 22, after her younger brother enlisted in the Air Force, MaryClare followed suit. She took her oath eight days before 9/11 and served for eight years. Now, the university’s participation in the Yellow Ribbon Program makes it possible for her to maximize the use of her Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits.

“Completely separating my life from the military was difficult and took time. I have had very understanding professors from GCU that offered me great advice,” says MaryClare DiMaggio.

Answering the Call to Serve . . . Again

Graduate student and Navy veteran Kirk Schuetz attends the Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling program using his VA benefits. The Kansas native had served just over two years when he dislocated his kneecap and doctors recommended he exit the service. He is now attending GCU under the Chapter 31 Vocational Rehabilitation program.

After his honorable discharge, Kirk, now 39, earned an associate’s degree at Burlington County College and a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts at Wichita State University. But it’s been 10 years since he was in a classroom, which, he admits, causes him some anxiety.“Even though school has changed (students didn’t communicate with the school for classes via the Web 10 years ago), my master’s program is very welcoming,” he says. “I’m so thankful to my country for helping me to improve through education. I am able to push through a tough economy and follow my dream of becoming a professional counselor for veterans. I chose GCU and am so glad I did.”

The original version of this story was published in the Fall 2012 issue of Georgian Court University magazine with the title, “Serving Those Who Served Our Nation,” by Tara M. Strickland. 

Over the past five years, the number of military veterans and their relatives who are using the education benefits available to them has nearly doubled from 550,000 to 925,000. As calls for a “smaller and leaner” military are answered, more veterans are gravitating to college. Higher education institutions like Georgian Court, which was named a Military Friendly School for 2014 by Victory Media, a veteran-owned business and publisher of G.I. Jobs and the Guide to Military Friendly Schools, enjoy an advantage.

Shadow Box_edit

One of those students is Marine Corps veteran Joe Hess. Joe joined the military right after high school, leaving home only four days after graduation to follow his grandfather’s “shining example of what is right.”

After six years, including a nearly 10-month tour of duty in Al Asad, Iraq, where he worked in motor transportation making fuel supply runs into often dangerous territory, Joe returned to college. The slightly unconventional and occasionally blue-Mohawked student/musician transferred to GCU from Ocean County College and is pursuing his dream of teaching mathematics.

“I want to teach high schoolers the subject they may dread and get them to enjoy math,” says Joe, who also professes a love for writing.

New Benefits, Extended Reach

In 2009–2010, Georgian Court added another benefit for veterans with its participation in the Yellow Ribbon Program. The program allows students who are fully eligible for the Post-9/11 GI Bill to attend private colleges and universities. GCU is allotted 20 annual spots (undergraduate and graduate combined), first come, first served.

Air Force veteran MaryClare DiMaggio is making the most of the Yellow Ribbon program, now in its fourth year at GCU. More than a decade ago she was attending community college part time and working full time, had college loan debt, and didn’t feel like she was getting ahead. At age 22, after her younger brother enlisted in the Air Force, MaryClare followed suit. She took her oath eight days before 9/11 and served for eight years. Now, the university’s participation in the Yellow Ribbon Program makes it possible for her to maximize the use of her Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits.

“Completely separating my life from the military was difficult and took time. I have had very understanding professors from GCU that offered me great advice,” says MaryClare DiMaggio.

Answering the Call to Serve . . . Again

Graduate student and Navy veteran Kirk Schuetz attends the Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling program using his VA benefits. The Kansas native had served just over two years when he dislocated his kneecap and doctors recommended he exit the service. He is now attending GCU under the Chapter 31 Vocational Rehabilitation program.

After his honorable discharge, Kirk, now 39, earned an associate’s degree at Burlington County College and a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts at Wichita State University. But it’s been 10 years since he was in a classroom, which, he admits, causes him some anxiety.“Even though school has changed (students didn’t communicate with the school for classes via the Web 10 years ago), my master’s program is very welcoming,” he says. “I’m so thankful to my country for helping me to improve through education. I am able to push through a tough economy and follow my dream of becoming a professional counselor for veterans. I chose GCU and am so glad I did.”

The original version of this story was published in the Fall 2012 issue of Georgian Court University magazine with the title, “Serving Those Who Served Our Nation,” by Tara M. Strickland. 

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