2015 is the latest year in which Nebraska Methodist College has been recognized as a Military-Friendly School by G.I. Jobs. To learn more about this important distinction, I chatted with Mark Araujo, NMC’s Military Ombudsperson as well as the Associate Director of Financial Aid for the college.
As a veteran himself, Mark is uniquely qualified to speak on the challenges faced by persons in the military who are trying to integrate successfully into college life. He considers himself a spokesperson for vets and a liaison between military students and faculty, with an open-door policy when it comes to helping military students feel more enmeshed within the culture of NMC.
Making the Transition to Campus Life
Some transitions to campus life will be easier than others, and staff members at NMC are asked to accommodate the needs of those who have chosen to serve their country before returning to get their degrees.
Mark provided an excellent example of a student being an active member of the National Guard who has to take an occasional long weekend to fulfill their military obligations.
“For a student, if you have an exam on Monday and you’re gone for three days and working 12-hour days, that’s a consideration. Those are the kinds of things that we want our instructors and faculty to be aware of and then to be able to come up with a plan to make a reasonable alternative for that individual, to possibly take an exam at a later time than 8 o’clock in the morning on Monday.“
At NMC, it’s Mark’s job to make sure instructors are aware of these issues and take steps to help that person find a successful resolution, whether that means arranging an alternate time for the test or some other plan that takes into account their other commitment.
Other potential obstacles aren’t as easily solved as choosing an alternate test date.
“Being able to interrupt during a lecture or something is shocking. There’s a very formal protocol, or chain of command, in the military. That can be something that’s hard to understand and can be annoying to someone who’s used to real structure and respect.”
Someone who has been in the military for years could feel alienated by the casual nature of campus life, but NMC takes steps to make everyone feel welcome. Mark was an instructor at Officer Candidate School, and as such, he’s willing and available to help teach instructors at NMC how to support their military students, bridging the gap to the different kinds of interactions that take place in the typical college classroom.
Financial and Social Considerations
As the Associate Director of Financial Aid, Mark was also thrilled to get the chance to talk me through some of the financial aid opportunities that await students who choose to enroll at NMC.
“We’re a Yellow Ribbon school, which means that we partner with the Department of Veterans Affairs to help students who may not have their full tuition covered by their Veterans Benefits, to help make up the difference.”
At NMC, this equates to as much as $3,000 per year for a student (up to 20 students can be enrolled at a time) who wouldn’t otherwise have his or her tuition fully taken care of by the Post 9/11 GI Bill. The VA will then match this amount for each student.
NMC is also in the process of formalizing an on-campus student center designated for members of the military. At the moment, students with military experience congregate in an informal manner, and while this is certainly encouraged, a more official student group will hopefully be incoming in the next couple years.
From The Military to the Future of Healthcare
If you’re a member of the military who’s considering a career in healthcare, then we hope you’ll consider Nebraska Methodist College. Veterans tend to thrive in this type of environment because they’ve already been through high-stress situations that the typical college freshman probably hasn’t experienced.
“There is a mental discipline that comes with the challenges of serving in the military,” said Mark, “Especially if you’ve been overseas, you come back and the normal challenges of the civilian world seem not quite as intense.”
The mental and physical discipline that stands as the hallmark of the military is critical when you’re working in a high-pressure healthcare setting. We recognize the value of military experience and respect the sacrifice that individuals in the armed forces have made for our country.
We strive to create a support structure that honors those who have served. Through financial aid opportunities, staff instruction, and simply having someone like Mark on staff who can relate to the issues faced by our men and women in the military, it’s the goal of Nebraska Methodist College to help our veterans and active duty citizens segue successfully into the next step of their careers and their lives.
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