As parents, students and educational institutions focus on the start of a new semester, nontraditional students like veterans are often overlooked. Student veterans are likely to be older than peer classmates, married, have children and work full or part-time jobs…
Veterans Resource Center Evolves into Office of Veteran Success
As part of the University’s commitment to be the “best place for veterans,” Syracuse University’s Veterans Resource Center (VRC) has expanded its support for military-connected students and been renamed the Office of Veteran Success (OVS).
The Office of Veteran Success, which now functions as a unit within the University’s Office of Veterans and Military Affairs (OVMA), serves as a central hub of resources for military-connected students to certify their Veteran Administration (VA) education benefits and connects them with resources that enable their academic, professional and personal success. The OVS also coordinates the veteran work-study program, maintains the student veteran lounge, provides institutional support to the University’s Student Veterans Organization (SVO) chapter and assists student veterans looking to secure housing and childcare while they pursue a Syracuse University education.
“Repositioning the Veterans Resource Center as a ‘one-stop shop’ for our military-connected students aligns exceptionally well with the University’s academic strategic plan, enhances the student experience and continues to deepen the University’s commitment to our veteran and military-connected population,” says Ron Novack, executive director of the OVMA and army veteran. “With these expanded resources available within the OVS, we are better able to serve our military-connected students and continue our focus on making Syracuse University the best place for veterans and their families.”
Keith Doss, a 26-year Navy veteran, a former VRC advisor and previously the center’s assistant director, oversees the office’s daily activities as assistant director of the OVS.
“To really be the best place for veterans we have to continue to enhance the full campus experience, not just the academic experience,” says Doss. “Our office is now, with the expanded team, well-equipped to both serve the veteran and military population, and also better integrate and connect them with more traditional students. It remains our honor to serve our military connected students; veterans, active duty and dependents.”
As of July 1, 2018, the Office of Veteran Success hired two school certifying officials:
Kari Mickinkle, a United States Marine Corps (USMC) veteran, serves as a VA school certifying official with the OVS. She advises military-connected students and their family members on their VA educational benefits and assists in processing and certifying their benefits applications.
A Syracuse alumna with a degree in history, Mickinkle worked part-time in the University’s Office of the Registrar before serving five years on active duty in the USMC. She deployed to Jordan in 2015 in support of Operation Eager Lion. After completing her active duty contract, Mickinkle returned to Syracuse University as an office coordinator for University College (UC) while completing a master’s degree in human services counseling from Liberty University.
In her role as a VA certifying official, Cipriano also focuses on assisting military-connected students, veterans and their families with requesting their educational benefits from the VA. Cipriano also prepares and certifies VA educational benefits, including those covered under the Yellow Ribbon program, reports status and eligibility changes and serves as a liaison between students, the VA and the University.
Cipriano has nearly 10 years of experience in higher education. She most recently served as the University veterans certifying official in the Office of the Registrar and was previously in numerous leadership roles at Bryant & Stratton College. She holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Le Moyne College.
Mickinkle and Cipriano join OVS team members Sarah Gelatt and John Cannizzaro. Gelatt, a military spouse, is the reconciliation specialist in the OVS. She is responsible for monitoring student accounts to ensure GI Bill benefits are applied and works closely with the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) to resolve payment issues.
Gelatt has spent nearly a decade working in various student financial services roles at both public and private institutions. She boasts impressive experience counseling students, reconciling accounts and securing outside scholarships and aid. She holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a concentration in management from the State University of New York College at Brockport. Gelatt brings an empathetic, relatable perspective to her work as a military spouse herself.
Cannizzaro, the OVS office coordinator, is responsible for monitoring and maintaining confidential student records, assisting prospective and currents students with their GI Bill benefits and maintaining the OVS website.
A Central New York native, Cannizzaro has experience in international investment banking, disaster recovery initiatives and managing global and domestic portfolios. He is currently pursuing an MBA in entrepreneurship at Syracuse University.
The Office of Veteran Success is located in room 215 of University College at 700 University Avenue.
About Syracuse University
Syracuse University is a private, international research university with distinctive academics, diversely unique offerings and an undeniable spirit. Located in the geographic heart of New York State, with a global footprint, and nearly 150 years of history, Syracuse University offers a quintessential college experience. The scope of Syracuse University is a testament to its strengths: a pioneering history dating back to 1870; a choice of more than 200 majors and 100 minors offered through 13 schools and colleges; nearly 15,000 undergraduates and 5,000 graduate students; more than a quarter of a million alumni in 160 countries; and a student population from all 50 U.S. states and 123 countries. For more information, please visit www.syracuse.edu.