UAS veteran students talk about their transitions from the military to the classroom and what’s next
By SHEVONDA BURKHART
Staff, Writer, UAS Whalesong
For those who have served in the military it can be an interesting transition from daily inspections to essays and homework.
Passed in 2008, the updated federal veterans education law pays in-state tuition rates and fees to the institution attended by the veteran or dependent spouse or children and provides the student with a monthly stipend to pay for books, supplies and housing, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
There are approximately 120 veterans accessing UAS for their classes, 45 of whom reside in Juneau, according to VA School Certifying Official Deborah Rydman.
Rydman helps veterans attending UAS meet eligibility criteria to their degree programs, is a staff Advisor for the UAS Veterans & Family Association, and has a deep passion for helping those who served.
“Our student veterans have volunteered in our place to serve our country and protect our freedom,” Rydman said.
Deborah has had this position for the past year and states that in 2016 the Veterans Affairs Office contributed $450,000 to UAS for veterans attending university.
Among our veteran students is marine biology major Stebi Sanchez who served 6 years in the United States Army.
“An education was the main reason I joined the military and I loved serving my country but it’s nice to finally get on with the next step of my life,” Sanchez said.
Sanchez describes the transition from the military to receiving an education, “It’s a process.”
“There is a lot that I am used to that I’m not dealing with anymore, but also things I left behind in the civilian world that I must reacquaint myself with,” he said.
After graduation from UAS Sanchez has his sights to the sky.
“With the Mars missions being a large talking point lately in the scientific community, I would love to be one of the first scientists looking at what is brought back and, if lucky enough, to be the first to see what would probably be true alien life, one celled organisms, with my own eyes,” he said.
Another UAS student who served in the US military is social sciences major Robert Partin. Patin served in the United States Marines Corp for four years.
The transition from the military to civilian life is different for everyone, and Partin has used education to facilitate that change.
“The transition from the military has been difficult but also rewarding because everything was so structured in the Marines but that it has been interesting following the education path.”
Partin said he chose UAS since Juneau is his hometown and he felt that he had been away from family for a while and wanted to be home.
“I like that UAS has small classes it allows for a more personal learning experience,” he said.
The future is unpaved for Partin after graduation.
“Right now I am looking at a freeway of choices for my future. I may end up applying with our local Police force, apply for graduate school, or even going into the Air National Guard. You never know.”
For information on veteran services email Deborah Rydman at firstname.lastname@example.org.