I grew up on the South Side of Chicago. After high school, I went to college but had to take a break to care for my mom, who was ill at the time. During that period, I had a lot of student debt to pay back, and I saw an ad on TV about how the Army could help with student loans, so I decided to pursue it. I loved the Army and the structure of it. Most people don’t love boot camp, but I did. While in the service, I spent most of my days in a giant vault, dismantling weapons. I also was able to travel a lot while in the Army and spent my last tour of duty in Egypt. I was in the military for a total of eight years and am 49 now.
In 2012, I initially went back to school to get my bachelor’s in physical therapy but found that I really wanted to steer teenagers in the right direction instead. I’m now pursuing a degree in psychology, with my ultimate goal of being a school psychologist. I’m only 73 credit hours away from finishing, and my expected graduation date is in 2015, after which I intend to pursue my master’s.
What was the most challenging part about returning to civilian and academic life?
I’ve been out of the Army since the mid-90s. Returning to civilian life was different back then when I got out. I think that what the troops today go through is a lot harder than what I did. To me, the military is at a better place of honor now than what it was in the ’90s.
Why did you select NLU?
I didn’t know that NLU had a Veterans Program. An Army recruiter told me that NLU accepted military credits –- and that I had 60 hours! I also had a coworker who was a psychologist, and she always said how great NLU was because of its flexible programs.
How has NLU’s Veterans Program helped you, as a veteran military student, the most?
NLU’s Veterans Program has given me hope and motivation. In the military, you want to help out fellow brothers and sisters. That’s what Paul Knudtson and Emily Drake do for me every day. Once I enrolled, I also spoke with Paul, who helped me strategize my college career. And after meeting with Emily, she helped me with my resume, too. Everyone at NLU has gone above and beyond for me. They take the time to really get to know you.
What should other potential student veterans know about NLU that they might not already know?
NLU gives you 1:1 attention. They have a Veterans Lounge where you can connect with other veterans and get things done. I’ve been able to do a lot of networking through the program.