I grew up on the West side of Chicago. My parents were very strict, so that helped with my transition to the military. Before I entered the military, I went to college for one year on a basketball scholarship. However, I lost my scholarship and started working at UPS to earn money to attend school. I decided that path wasn’t for me at the time and chose to enlist in the military.
Being in the military was a great opportunity for me. I spent five years at Fort Brag in North Carolina. During that time, I had two tours of duty: one in Iraq and the other in Afghanistan. I was an airborne trooper in the U.S. Army. I have five children ages 13, 11, 9, 7 and 4.
What was the most challenging part about returning to civilian and academic life?
Fitting in when I returned from the Army was really difficult. I was used to a certain pattern of things in the military, which didn’t exist in civilian life. Plus, I didn’t have the resources that I needed. Friends and family would say, “You can get a job, housing, etc.” but that wasn’t necessarily the case. I didn’t know how to make those things happen. I wasn’t sure how to talk about my military experience in a way that would help me achieve my goals.
Why did you select NLU?
My mom graduated from National Louis, so I started looking into going to school there as well. I really liked NLU because I had the option of going to class and taking online courses one day per week, which helped me balance my full-time, 60-hour-per-week job at Unilever. At the time I applied, I didn’t know about NLU’s Veterans Program. I’m now pursuing a Bachelors of Art in Applied Behavioral Sciences and am scheduled to graduate this spring. I plan to pursue my master’s degree as well. I want to be a counselor or a social worker.
How has NLU’s Veterans Program helped you, as a veteran military student, the most?
The outreach of the Veterans Team has made a tremendous difference. Specifically, Paul Knudtson, Director of Armed Services Relations, and Emily Drake, Employer Outreach Specialist, reached out to me. I email with Emily weekly about my post-graduation job pursuits, resume, etc. Paul is helping me to identify a master’s program that will be a good fit for me. Overall, I feel like the team at NLU really is looking out for me.
What should other potential student veterans know about NLU that they might not already know?
NLU’s flexible class schedule option is a real bonus when you have a job. The Veterans Program team really helps you with the transition from the military back to school. It was challenging for me to find the resources that I needed when I returned to civilian life. The team at NLU has really helped to identify resources for me, and that’s made such a big difference to my progress and success.