Ranked by a number of publications as one of the best colleges for veterans in the United States, UNCG has a reputation for providing a supportive environment for those who have served in our nation’s military.

UNCG has a legacy of support for veterans on campus dating back to its Woman’s College days, from WWI leaders like Dr. Anna Gove who served with the Red Cross to members of the Women’s Army Corps and Women’s Army Veterans in WWII.

The university proudly continues this history for current members of the armed forces and reserves. Most recently, UNCG was named to the Military Times’ annual Best for Vets: Colleges 2016 list, ranking No. 68 out of 125 four-year schools across the nation.

Last Veterans Day, the university opened its Veterans Resource Center, located on the bottom floor in the Spring Garden Apartments on campus. The center is essential to its mission to serve veterans by helping them better connect with each other and the university and learn about available resources. It also offers special training for faculty and staff to help them learn to better support veteran students.

Chris Gregory, UNCG’s Veterans Resource Center coordinator, said it’s important for the university to “make education as easy as possible” for veterans students. “These are folks who have put themselves in harm’s way to protect our country.”

The Veterans Resource Center starts working with UNCG’s veteran students before they’re even students. They help veterans navigate the application process and helping them secure the financial aid they need to be successful.

“We do a lot to help them get to UNCG,” Gregory said. Once they’re here, veterans make excellent students.

“Veteran students tend to come in a little bit more prepared and a little more focused,” Gregory said, adding that those students tend to contribute a lot to the groups they join and they make great alumni.

“Veteran students look at the world a bit differently,” said Seth Pfund-Kraus, a senior finance major and veteran student.

Not only do they have more life experience, but veterans must also learn to reestablish their identity as a civilian and a student.

“You’re no longer a soldier. You have to play a different role,” he said. “Making that switch is very challenging.”

The Veteran Resource Center provides a place for veteran students to get away and socialize with those with similar life experience.

“The Veterans Resource Center has provided me with a positive environment to study in and to interact with fellow veterans who have shared the experience of sacrificing their lives for our country,” said Samyuell Mongkhounsavath, a student veteran studying human development and family studies.

Like Pfund-Kraus, many of UNCG’s veteran students are studying in the Bryan School of Business, but a growing number of students are also applying to the nursing school. The Veterans Access Program provides an accelerated program to veterans who served as medics.

After serving seven years as an Army medical supply specialist, Yessica Aguas’ main focus was “getting back to school.”

She knew she wanted to be a nurse, so when she heard about the Veterans Access Program, she realized it was “a great opportunity.”

Not only will Aguas will be able to graduate earlier than if she attended a different program, but her clinical uniforms and many of her materials were paid for with a grant.

Not having to worry about those extra expenses was a relief, she said.

 

Story by Jeanie Groh, University Relations
Photography by Martin W. Kane, University Relations