SAME President Attends Student Veterans Event

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SAME President, Col. John Mogge, Ph.D., RA, F.SAME, USAF (Ret.) recently attended an event at the University of South Florida (USF) titled “Success Beyond Service.” The event encapsulates the potential SAME has to make a difference in supporting STEM and supporting America’s veterans. It was held to bring awareness to two programs USF has started: the Veterans Mentoring Program and the Veterans Employment Project. These programs are connected to STEM by helping veterans find suitable mentors to coach them and employers to possibly hire them once they graduate.

SAME President John Mogge at USF Student Veterans event

SAME President John Mogge (right) attends USF’s “Success Beyond Service Social,” held to highlight its two new veterans assistance programs.

USF is a great example of the opportunity that universities around the country can offer America’s veterans transitioning out of the service and into the marketplace. The school’s student veteran demographics, in fact, align especially close to SAME’s interests—and so it is no surprise that in the past few months, momentum has been building to establish a Student Chapter at USF, sponsored by the SAME Tampa Bay Post.

 

MENTORING AND STEM OUTREACH
About 25 percent of USF’s 1,500 student veterans are in some type of STEM major (science, technology, engineering and math). A number of the Tampa Bay Post’s Young Members are USF veteran graduates. Establishing a Student Chapter and engaging future engineers, encouraging STEM-related career fields, and supporting the nation’s veterans as they transition out of the service hits on all three of SAME’s 2014-2015 Focus Areas: 1) maintain relevance and be vigilant to change; 2) STEM outreach; and 3) support to veterans.

According to Evan Itle, Assistant Director-Office of Veterans Services at USF, the university offers a great deal of programs that are based on STEM. The majority of veteran engineers attend the university for the rating of friendliness and the university’s reputation. Along with the engineering departments tutoring program, the Office of  Veteran Services provides veteran-veteran tutoring in most of the STEM fields.

What’s perhaps most interesting, however, is that according to Itle, most veterans are not engineers in the military.  It is typically a degree that interests veterans with high aptitudes in math. Moreover, veterans transitioning see a higher probability of a prosperous career after they finish their degree.

 

ASSISTING STUDENT VETERANS
On the topic of what universities can do, on a broader perspective, to help transitioning veterans, there are several lessons that have been learned in recent years. “It is very helpful for a university to have a veteran department on campus that can help answer all their questions as they are trying to enroll in college,” Itle says.  ”It can be very confusing for any prospective student to ensure they have everything they need to be able to be accepted into a university.  At USF, our veterans services office has recently begun the ‘Pathway to Admission’ process.  The ‘Pathway to Admission’ allows a member of our office to track every veteran that applies to our university and help them in any way that they need.  This can range from status updates to helping them with their transcripts.  Our office also adds a personal touch by sending an email to every one of the prospective students so that they know we are here to help them.”

Another way the university helps student veterans is through a partnership with the local VA Vet Center.  The Vet Center focuses specifically with veterans transition issues as well as readjustment and reintegration problems that a veteran may have.  The center sends a licensed social worker to campus once a week in case students want to talk to them and help them with any issues.

 

GETTING ENGAGED
As SAME continues its support to transitioning veterans and to building future engineers through STEM engagement, it’s clear there is a great opportunity to engage in the two focus areas together.  SAME Posts and their Student Chapters around the country can take a cue from what is working in south Florida to get engaged in their areas.

Click here for more on SAME’s STEM initiatives.

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