Veteran Event

It’s been over a month since I’ve posted anything. I have been up to my eyebrows in classwork. In one of my classes at Northern Arizona University my group is planning an event. Here is the brief paper I wrote:

The purpose of this paper is to attempt to quantify running an event where NAU-Yavapai allows area veterans to use the campus computer lab to apply for FAFSA grants. Current students who are also veterans who can relate to and assist these veterans in filling out the application should staff this event.
Instead on pleading a case for why this event should be run, I will instead tell a personal story…
 
I was discharged from the US Navy in 1997 three months prior to moving to Arizona. I found in the Prescott area my skills learned in the Navy was of no practical value. I held several moderately paid jobs, but none of them excited me. None of them fulfilled me. It wasn’t until 2008 (more than a decade after I moved to Arizona) that I met a Yavapai College professor by the name of Dr. Terry Lovell. Dr. Lovell is the economics professor and one of the most tenured instructors in the BUCs division at Yavapai College. He basically harassed me for a solid six months saying things like “Why don’t you apply for a FAFSA and get yourself a degree?” He was pretty relentless. I heard from him at least once a week for those six months. Finally, I got off my duff and filled out the FAFSA. I was approved for the maximum amount and I immediately registered at Yavapai College.
I found the majority of my coursework colorfully influenced by my veteran status. I brought clarity and an understanding most of my classmates lacked. The more I dedicated myself to my studies, the more I wanted to learn. I found working towards my degree to be empowering. As I moved closer to graduation, I started to for the first time since I was on active duty, to have a purpose.
Since graduating with my AAS, I knew I could not stop there. A bachelor’s degree made so much sense, not doing so could only be wrong.
Being a member of a protected group such as Veteran, was of limited value. I was afforded protections and my veteran status often worked in my favor. Now that I am only four semesters from my Bachelor’s degree, I look towards my Master’s degree.
I am fortunate Dr. Lovell harassed me so. Prior to my returning to education, the best I could have hoped for was a middle road job I may not enjoy. Now, my future looks good with potential titles such as “community developer” or “behavioral health therapist.” I even look to a Master’s degree and see titles like “educator” or even “professor.”
This journey I have been on for the last five years has not been an easy one. Pratfalls and obstacles have littered my path. I now call myself “graduate” as well as “veteran.” It all started with me filling out the FAFSA form.
As I move through the education process I look back to who I was before. I see veterans in the same position I was in. Languishing in jobs they dislike. I see the same potential in them Dr. Lovell saw in me. I want them to succeed like I am. Setting up this project and event will help countless individuals.
I am a veteran. I am a graduate. With this project others can too.

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About Mark Gardner

Mark Gardner lives in northern Arizona with his wife, three children and a pair of spoiled dogs. Mark holds a degrees in Computer Systems and Applications and Applied Human Behavior. View all posts by Mark Gardner

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