UNC Pembroke is proud to be named a “Military Friendly School” for the fifth consecutive year, school administrators said.
But there’s more to the designation than meets the eye, said Aubrey Swett, who works in UNCP’s Veterans Education and Transition Assistance Program as the liaison to veterans and active duty service men and women.
“The award helps keep our eye on the ball,” he said. “Every year, we get better at meeting the needs of this special group. This award helps market the university, but it also helps us stay focused on a very important and worthy group of students.”
Making the designation was G.I. Jobs magazine, which bills itself as the premier magazine for military personnel transitioning into civilian life. The 2012 Military-Friendly Schools list honors the top 20 percent of colleges, universities and trade schools that are doing the most to embrace America’s military service members and veterans who are enrolled or seeking enrollment in higher education.
To help student veterans find the right school, G.I. Jobs incorporated a survey of student veterans. The feedback provides special insight to active duty and retired military personnel who are considering college. With this guidance, these prospective students get a glimpse of the student veteran experience at different institutions based on peer reviews from current students of those schools.
Service members and veterans can also meet individual student veterans from the various schools on the site to learn more about personal school decisions and the transition from the military to an academic environment.
The 1,518 colleges, universities and trade schools on this year’s list make students with military experience a priority. These schools make the grade by offering services to those who served.
Swett, a retired Marine, noted several new initiatives to help vets and active duty soldiers connect with UNCP.
“We have formed a new Task Force on Military and Veterans Outreach to review policy strategies to market and serve those populations,” he said. “We are moving forward with some solid recommendations.”
Dr. Kenneth Kitts, UNCP’s provost and vice chancellor for Academic Affairs, serves as co-chair for the task force.
“One result of our study is that we will soon create a ‘one-stop’ office for military personnel and veterans in order to help them get the answers they need to further their education,” Kitts said. “We value those individuals for the skills, experience and perspective they bring to our campus community.”
Another new initiative is the addition of four military veteran campus assistants who personally guide veterans to key university contacts, including the offices of Admissions and Financial Aid. The assistants are all student-veterans who have already built relationships across campus.
“This program has greatly improved service to veterans,” Swett said. “The assistants know and understand veteran education benefits and the university.”
Martin Nielson is a 32-year Navy veteran, an exercise physiology major and a campus assistant. With approximately 400 vets or active duty military at UNCP, he stays busy.
“We work hand-in-hand with the [Veteran’s Administration] certifying officer in financial aid,” Nielson said. “There are a lot of hoops to jump through, so we help them get their paperwork together, so it becomes a one-stop-shop.”
Nielson said the Veterans Assistance program works well and the Military-Friendly designation is important.
“When I was looking at colleges, I saw the Military-Friendly logo, clicked on the veteran’s website and found Aubrey,” the retired officer said. “Aubrey was one of the major reasons I decided to come to UNCP.”
Nielson will graduate in May, and he is currently planning a Veteran’s Day celebration for the university.
UNCP sponsors a chapter of the Student Veterans of American which will organize several events for Veterans Day on November 11. Beginning at 7:30 a.m., there will be a roll call of the approximately 6,500 casualties of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
At 11 seconds after 11 a.m. on the 11th day of the 11th month, UNCP will join colleges and universities across the nation for a moment of silence to honor veterans. The annual Veterans Day Appreciation Banquet will be at 6 p.m. in the University Center Annex.
UNCP @ FORT BRAGG
A key component of UNCP’s veterans campaign is the Fort Bragg satellite office, which has a full-time program coordinator, an office and classrooms. Dr. Charles Tita is director of Distance Learning at UNCP and supervises the university’s satellite campuses.
“The Military-Friendly designation is important to us as we promote our programs on Fort Bragg, but it also speaks to the quality of service we provide,” Dr. Tita said. “At UNCP we are fully engaged in our efforts to ensure that military families have access to a hassle-free, high-quality education. We understand the challenges soldiers face, as they are frequently deployed and may not stay long enough in one place to complete their college degrees.” UNCP offers three undergraduate and six graduate programs via the Fort Bragg satellite program. Undergraduate degrees include nursing, criminal justice and business administration.
Graduate degrees that UNCP offers at the Fort Bragg satellite program include the Master of Business Administration, Master of Arts in physical education, Master of Public Administration and a Master of Arts in teaching, which can be specialized to focus on middle grades, physical education or other areas.
“A full story and detailed list of Military-Friendly Schools will be highlighted in the annual Guide to Military Friendly Schools and on a poster, both of which will be distributed to hundreds of thousands of active and former military personnel in early October. The newly redesigned website, www.militaryfriendlyschools.com, features the list, interactive tools and search functionality to assist military veterans with their school decisions.
G.I. Jobs is published by Victory Media, a veteran-owned business that also publishes The Guide to Military Friendly Schools, Military Spouse and Vetrepreneur magazines and annually rates the nation’s “Military-Friendly Employers,” “Military Spouse-Friendly Employers” and “Best Corporations for Veteran-Owned Businesses.”