When Daniel Testa was ready to use the education benefits he'd earned as a member of the U.S. Air Force National Guard, he chose The University of Akron.
"I wanted a degree in business, and I knew Akron had a good business program," recalls Testa, who graduated in December 2012 with a B.B.A. in Finance and is now an associate financial analyst with Diebold, Incorporated. What Testa soon discovered was that UA was expanding its services to meet the needs of student veterans on many levels, and he had the opportunity to be a part of the outreach efforts.
"I think being a veteran gave me a better understanding of the process, and it helped the people coming into the Military Services Center because they had someone like themselves to relate to," says Testa, who joined the center as a Veterans Affairs Work Study student while he pursued his degree. "In addition to their education benefits, there was a lot more we could do to help the new vets make the transition to college life."
These comprehensive academic and support services put in place by UA for current service members and returning military veterans have just earned a fifth consecutive Military Friendly Schools designation from G.I. Jobs magazine. The designation, which puts UA in the top 20 percent of all colleges, universities and trade schools, is in addition to its ranking as a Servicemembers Opportunity College.
"Inclusion on the 2014 list of Military Friendly Schools® shows The University of Akron’s commitment to providing a supportive environment for military students," says Sean Collins, vice president at Victory Media Inc., a veteran-owned business that publishes G.I. Jobs magazine and other periodicals.
"The need for education is growing and our mission is to provide the military community with transparent, world-class resources to assist in their search for schools," adds Collins, a nine-year veteran of the U.S. Navy.
"We have approximately 1,200 student-veterans on campus, and the University has taken a comprehensive approach to surround them with the resources to help them succeed," says Mary Rossett, associate director of military services in the Transfer and Adult Student Education Center. "We are committed to making their transition as smooth as possible."
For Testa, who remains a member of the U.S. Air Force National Guard, the opportunity to help fellow veterans was gratifying.
“It was a lot of work, and very involved, but I enjoyed it much more than I expected,” he notes. “The people being helped were appreciative of our efforts.”