UA ranks as ‘Military Friendly’ for fourth consecutive year09/17/2012
Stephen Hume was still deployed overseas when he started looking at law school programs to attend once his service with the United States Air Force was completed, and he quickly discovered that there was no place like home.
"I had done some of my undergraduate work at The University of Akron before I joined the Air Force," recalls the Medina native. "When I started looking at programs in Ohio and in other states, none of them matched the University in cost or in their services for veterans."
It is UA's comprehensive academic and support services for returning military veterans that have just earned a Military Friendly School designation for a fourth consecutive year from G.I. Jobs magazine. The designation, which puts UA in the top 15 percent of all colleges, universities and trade schools, is in addition to its ranking as a Servicemembers Opportunity College.
'Supportive environment recognized'
"Inclusion on the 2013 list of Military Friendly Schools shows The University of Akron's commitment to providing a supportive environment for military students," says Sean Collins, director for G.I. Jobs and vice president at Victory Media. "As interest in education grows, we're thrilled to provide the military community with transparent, world-class resources to assist in their search for schools."
UA has taken a comprehensive approach to surround student-veterans with a variety of resources to help them succeed, notes Mary Rossett, manager of enrollment services, who directs the Military Services Center.
"We have approximately 1,400 veterans on campus, and we are so honored to be serving them," says Rossett. "They are so appreciative of their GI Bill benefits and we are grateful they decided to attend The University of Akron. We are committed to making their transition here as smooth as possible. Given the sacrifices that they have made for our country, it is the least we can do."
- Military Services Center — Staffed by experts, the center makes it easy for veterans to enroll and gain access to any needed academic-support and student-life services to use the educational benefits provided by the Montgomery GI Bill, Vocational Rehab, Ohio National Guard, Federal Tuition Assistance and the Post-9/11 GI Bill.
- UA Adult Focus — Serving student-veterans, along with other adult students, the office provides a variety of academic support services, including individualized academic advising, to assist students with the transition to college life as well as their educational and career choices.
- Musson Military Veterans Lounge — Opened in 2011 on the third floor of InfoCision Stadium, the construction and furnishings for the lounge were made possible by $220,000 in donations from the community, including the R.C. Musson and Katharine M. Musson Charitable Foundation.
- Telehealth program — In partnership with the Cleveland Veterans Affairs Medical Center, UA is believed to be the first college site in the country to offer veterans access to health care services via teleconferencing equipment. Launched just this fall in Musson Military Veterans Lounge with speech-language pathology services, the program will expand to meet veterans' various health needs.
- Veterans Steering Committee — This group of individuals from across campus works to ensure that the unique needs of student-veterans are met, from enrollment through graduation.
As for Hume, he says he appreciates the efforts to ease the transition from military to college life for himself and other veterans at UA.
Transition to new life made easier
"Everyone is very motivated to help and they are really responsive when it comes to all of the paperwork and dealing with the VA. I like coming in here and knowing there’s help if I need it," says Hume, who also took classes through the University of Maryland while in the service and graduated with a bachelor's degree in criminal justice from the Community College of the Air Force.
Since returning to UA last spring, Hume has been taking sociology and criminology classes, and is studying for the Law School Admission Test in February. He also has become active in the Military Veterans Association on campus.
Although retired from the military, the experience continues to shape his future.
"I’m interested in constitutional law," says Hume. "The whole area of veterans rights is something I am passionate about, and I'd like to be an advocate for veterans one day."