Mark, a Veteran's Story

mark Veteran By now it is no secret that the transition from military to civilian life poses several challenges to countless veterans. These challenges can compound when veterans enter academia after several years removed from formal education. One CFC-funded organization helps student-veterans confront challenges head-on while cultivating the skills and confidence required for success in the classroom.

Mark, a U.S. Army veteran, began his intellectual journey at a small community college in Alabama. Eager to maximize his opportunities, he approached college with a rigorous enthusiasm that was absent from his studies prior to his enlistment at 17 years old. Mark quickly outgrew his community college and sought to transfer, feeling a sense of duty to capitalize on the unique opportunity to pursue education that the post-9/11 GI Bill provided. 

The joy he felt while reading his acceptance letter from Georgetown University, however, faded rapidly and was replaced with anxiety. Mark worried about how his non-traditional background would impact his time at Georgetown, and how well he could match the academic standards of a student body full of high school valedictorians. He felt he could not possibly fit in with, let alone add to, the environment that Georgetown had established and fostered for more than two centuries. 

The CFC-funded organization’s program helped him realize how wrong he was, serving as the perfect catalyst for Mark’s Georgetown experience. 

“Dynamic lectures prepared me for the teaching styles I would soon encounter.” Mark said, describing how the program prepared him for university. “Interactive writing workshops strengthened my confidence as a writer. An intense workload foreshadowed the time management I would need to quickly perfect. Honest conversations with fellow veterans gave insight on how to best relate with younger students.” 

Most importantly, this organization provided Mark with a supportive network of fellow student-veterans that constantly promoted solidarity. They helped each other realize and remember that they are not navigating this endeavor alone. 

“My experience as a student at Georgetown has proven that my anxiety was misguided,” Mark said. “As student-veterans, we are not intellectually inferior to our peers. We have simply been building a different set of skills.” 

The organization helps bridge the skill gap that many veterans encounter in academia. With the proper guidance, the traits that shaped successful service members can be applied to schoolwork to create successful students. This organization also helps veterans understand that the gap they perceive between themselves and traditional students can be as narrow as they want it to be. 

“We are not that different, and while I’m proud of my service, I’m now even more proud to be a Hoya. My transition to academia would not have been nearly as seamless without this CFC-funded organization,” Mark commented about the overall experience.