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Meet Matthew Allen, a student in the NLU veterans program

matthew allen 3Tell us about yourself.

I grew up in State College, PA, near Penn State University. My parents moved us away when I was in high school, and for a while I really was looking for some guidance. The military helped me find that, and now that I’m a student Veteran at National Louis University, I feel like I’ve got another strong advocate. I currently live in Morton Grove. I’m married with three children, ages 9 to 24.

In terms of my military background, in 1992 I entered a special program in the U.S. Army. I was part of artillery and rocket shooting fire missions. My work in the military is difficult to translate into a career in the civilian field. I was told the closest match for me would be as a cartographer, but that didn’t interest me.

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

Finding a use and a fit for what I learned in the military has been tough. I didn’t have a lot of direction after I graduated from high school, and when I learned about the military, it sounded like a really good option for me. When I returned from the military in 1994, I earned my associates degree at Pennsylvania College of Technology, where I learned some very helpful skills; however, I discovered that I really wanted to teach because I am looking for a job that’s more rewarding and where I have an opportunity to help others.

Why did you select NLU?

Before attending NLU, I was doing drafting and design work and was traveling a long distance to get there. With this job, I realized that I didn’t want to sit in front of a computer and commute so much. One night when I got home from work there was a flier on my footstep, and it talked about NLU’s North Shore program. I noticed that I could actually ride my bike to my classes and then I became even more interested. I knew NLU was a really good school. I earned my B.A. in Applied Behavioral Science at NLU, and now I’m in the Masters of Art in Teaching program for Secondary Education for Physical Sciences at NLU.

How did you learn about NLU’s Veterans Program?

I learned about the program fairly recently. I wish I had connected with it much sooner. I saw information about the Veterans Program online and later on realized all of the benefits of it. It’s a great service to veterans.

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

The program has supplied me with a lot of useful information. I’ve talked with Paul Knudtson, Director of Armed Services Relations at NLU. Just talking with him really helped me with my education and career plan.

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

I’d like other people to know how connected people are at NLU with those in the “outside world,” meaning the employment market. The training I got in the military was working with people and that’s a fulcrum of the University – working with people. NLU has a very similar ideology as the military in that sense. It provides connectedness for veterans. Students get realistic experience, and instructors tell you what it’s like to be out in the real world. The instructors have really great perspective, and overall I think the quality of teaching is excellent.