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Meet Andrew Heil, a student in the NLU Veterans Program

shutterstock_129353198Tell us about yourself.

I was born and raised in Chicago. When the Army recruiter came to my high school, my ears perked up. I knew I wanted to be a law enforcement officer and learned a great deal about the field through my roles and responsibilities in the Army. My two primary roles in the Army were as a military police investigator and army recruiter. In 2011, I retired with 22 years of active duty in the Army, along with an additional 10 years of service in the Reserves.

I’m married with one son, three daughters and a granddaughter. I live in Streamwood and attend National Louis University’s Wheeling campus. I’m pursuing a degree in Criminal Justice. My goal always has been to earn a bachelors degree, and I’m scheduled to graduate after this summer term.

What was the most challenging part about returning to civilian and academic life?

I’ve always stayed in some sort of educational environment since high school, so it wasn’t a challenge for me to go back to school. In the Army, we always were involved in some type of educational program – always teaching, learning, etc. I also attended different Army colleges, including an Army recruiting school in Indiana, along with a career counselor school for Army Reserves in Wisconsin. When I left the military, I was in operations and that involved a great deal of training and development too.

Why did you select NLU?

I met Richard Schak, current NLU Criminal Justice program director, at his former job. I was so impressed with him that when he mentioned he was leaving to accept the position at NLU, I researched the University, its Criminal Justice program and liked what I saw, so I transferred.

How has NLU’s Veterans Program helped you, as a veteran military student, the most?

I was part of the VA work study program at the University and worked in the Student Finance department at the Wheeling campus. Pauline DeGrazia, NLU Student Advisor, was my supervisor. She was extremely dedicated, kind and knowledgeable. While working with her, she pointed me in the right direction for what needed to be done and the right way to do it. She always was there if I had a question. She goes above and beyond to get the job done. Often I would see her leave the office very late in order to complete paperwork to make sure that student veterans wouldn’t be hindered and receive their benefits on time. She understands that many need that financial support in order to remain in school. I currently take advantage of the post 9-11 GI Bill, which helps with my tuition and housing. Because of Pauline’s dedication, I feel like I have all the support I need for my personal financial aid needs and to do the best job possible in my work study position.

What should other potential student veterans know about NLU that they might not already know?

NLU is a military-friendly school, without a doubt. In the military, when you’re a supervisor, you always take care of your soldiers. I feel like NLU does that for me. The NLU veterans team always is looking out for me, and they are here when I need them. NLU invites me to job fairs, helps with financial aid, etc. This is a big deal for me since I’m retired and unemployed. I feel like I’m not in this alone. The NLU veterans team has my best interests at heart.