The post below is an abbreviated version of a story that originally appeared in the Fall 2018 edition of UNCG Magazine. To read the full story and view additional images, click here.
The college experience offers special challenges for veterans, like navigating VA benefits, re-acclimating to civilian culture and translating military experience for the civilian job market.
To ease these transitions, Alumni Engagement and Military-Affiliated Services have begun laying the groundwork for the Military and Veteran Alumni Society. The goal of the group is to develop a robust mentorship network connecting veteran students with veteran faculty and alumni to ensure the success of veteran students both during and after their coursework at UNCG.
Programming started small. In the spring of 2018, Alumni Engagement and Military-Affiliated Services began hosting Coffee With Veterans, a series of informal gatherings between veteran students and alumni. The idea was to facilitate a comfortable social event where mentors and mentees would connect organically.
“It ended up being so much more than chatting and swapping business cards,” said associate director of Alumni Engagement, Marine veteran and Navy Reserve officer Dean Castaldo. “What’s really great is how the alums are leading the conversations and the students are engaging.”
For Brad Wrenn, Air Force veteran and Military-Affiliated Services director, bringing in veteran alumni helped engage veteran students in a meaningful way.
“These students are very action-oriented and mission-oriented,” Brad said. “They see their mission here as attaining a degree and a job. That sort of mindset can make it difficult to engage them in anything outside of attending class and making good grades. Coffee With Veterans helped turn that on its head and get these students involved.”
Read the full article to learn more about the Spartan veterans who are finding their way at UNCG and the veteran alumni who have found their way back.
Story by Victor Ayala, University Communications
Photography by Martin W. Kane, University Communications