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UNCP honors its graduating student veterans

May 30, 2014

UNC Pembroke honored its 41 graduating veterans on May 7 in an outdoor ceremony on the Quad. UNCP’s student veterans, their families and active duty service men and women have changed the student profile at the university, and everybody is benefitting.

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Graduating veterans gather for a group photo with Chancellor Carter and staff.

During the Student Veterans Recognition event, Adrean Hye, a second-year student and ROTC cadet, took an oath of service during a “contracting ceremony.” Three new second lieutenants, Yesina Gilfranco, Valery Quinones and Andrew Wheeler, were commissioned on May 10 following commencement. They completed ROTC training at UNCP.

The vets, who are part of a growing military presence at UNCP, were given challenge coins and honor cords by Chancellor Kyle R. Carter. He noted that approximately 800 students with military connections are enrolled in undergraduate and graduate programs. They represent 15 percent of the university’s total enrollment and 118 of this group are graduating on May 9-10.

“This ceremony is about our appreciation for your service and for what you add to our campus as students,” Chancellor Carter said. “UNCP prides itself as a military friendly school, and I hope we have proven that to each of you.”

Chancellor Carter, who took the oath of service as an ROTC cadet many years ago, congratulated the graduating veterans for their service to their country and for their accomplishments in the classroom at UNCP. He noted that veterans add maturity, worldview and excellence to the university.

Returning to college is never easy and it is particularly difficult for active duty service men and women like Captain La Tise Higgins, who was named UNCP’s MPA Student of the Year. She graduated on May 9 with a Master of Public Administration degree.

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UNCP’s Army ROTC cadets at the event

“I took classes on Fort Bragg, online and on (UNCP’s) campus,” she said. Her next assignment is in Afghanistan.

Col. Mike Clawson (ret.) coordinates services to veterans. UNCP has trained veteran service representatives in the offices of Financial Aid and Admissions and the university maintains an office on Fort Bragg.

Clawson broke out a profile of veterans nationally, in North Carolina and at UNCP. North Carolina ranks ninth in the nation for the number of resident veterans and eighth in the nation for veterans using the education programs provided by the Veterans Administration. 

There are 792,000 veterans in North Carolina, or 13 percent of the state’s total population. Only one percent of the U.S. population are veterans.

Veterans are more likely to vote and have a higher percentage of them have high school degrees than other Americans. However, only 25 percent of vets have bachelor’s degrees. When they enroll, vets enroll at public universities like UNCP and 51 percent graduate with business degrees, the top major.

The average age of UNCP’s veterans is 27, and 47 percent of them have families.

Of the 11,000 college and universities in the nation, Clawson noted UNCP is one of just 1,700 to earn the “military friendly” designation.

“UNCP is military-friendly because our student veterans success has made us this way - these veterans earned their opportunity to get a degree and they went after it - and in doing so, our efforts to support their goals, made us better,” Clawson said. 

“What UNCP military students have done here is special - first serving our nation, and now achieving a tough objective - gaining their degree,” Clawson concluded. “UNCP will be proud to call all our student veterans alumni. We congratulate you!”

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Adrean Hye, a second year student at UNCP, takes the oath of service during the recognition event.

To contact the Military and Veteran Services office, please call (910) 775-4438 or email

To contact UNCP at Fort Bragg, please contact Tiffany Dalmida at (910) 410-4295 or mail