Transitioning from a military career back into civilian life presents many challenges for veterans. Syracuse University has created a robust infrastructure of career and academic services to help student veterans make a smooth transition from military service to academic life—and…
Syracuse Student Veterans Kick Off Spring Semester at National Conference and Employers Meetings
Nearly two dozen Syracuse University students, including 13 student veterans, five active duty military service members, one National Guardsman, an ROTC cadet and a military family dependent, recently returned from the annual Student Veterans of America (SVA) National Conference in Los Angeles. Joining the students were Syracuse leaders and conference presenters including Ray Toenniessen, associate vice president for University initiatives; Ron Novack, executive director of the Office of Veteran and Military Affairs (OVMA), Jennifer Pluta G’15, assistant director of veteran career services for OVMA and Rosalinda Maury, Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) director of applied research. This important student experience was capped off with multiple meetings with well-known employers as part of OVMA’s career service efforts for student veterans.
“SVA’s National Conference is a powerful and informative convening for our students, both in attendance and back home on campus,” says Novack. “The conference also offers an opportunity for our University leaders to share proprietary research and strategies that seek to improve the student veteran experience in higher education across the country. The insight and knowledge we bring back to campus year-after-year enhances the student experience for all Syracuse University scholars as we continue our work to be the best place for veterans, their families and military-connected students. The addition of this year’s career meetings further benefitted our student attendees.”
Every year, SVA’s National Conference brings more than 2,000 student veterans, advocates, thought-leaders, stakeholders and supporters in higher education together for the field’s largest convening. The three-day conference consisted of breakout sessions geared toward student veteran success and post-graduation opportunities.
“SVA’s conference was an experience I’ll remember the rest of my life. Getting to know the unique stories of fellow student veterans from around the country showed me how diverse and incredible we truly are,” says Laura Buys ’18, G’21, a U.S. Air Force veteran and master’s degree candidate in social work in the Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics. “Attending sessions for student veterans with disabilities, those who identify as LGBTQIA and the experiences of women in the military, I felt more empowered in my own identities. I also felt a sense of connectedness with others and an increased understanding of the full spectrum of humanity within SVA. These valuable personal and professional lessons will continue to inspire and drive me into the next chapter of my life. A heartfelt thanks to Syracuse University, as well as all the generous donors and staff.”
University leaders conducted four sessions at the conference. Maury presented with Chris Cate, SVA vice president of research, on the challenges, barriers and opportunities for veterans in higher education research. She also led a presentation with Corri Zoli, director of research at Syracuse University’s Institute for Security Policy and Law and Daniel Fay of Florida State University on women’s contributions to national service and post-service civilian life. Jolynn Parker, director of Syracuse University’s Center for Fellowship and Scholarship Advising, presented on encouraging student veterans to apply for national competitive scholarships. Joining Parker were Novack and Marine Corps veteran, Syracuse student and 2019 Tillman scholar Katy Quartaro ’18, G’20. Toenniessen and Novack also presented with members of the SVA on fundraising in higher education for student veterans. Pluta joined the conference’s Employment Summit panel discussion on Student Veterans: Global Talent Hiding in Plain Sight, moderated by the Hon. Patrick Murphy. Additionally, Pluta moderated a panel in collaboration with Society General on Corporate Partnerships for Successful Internship Placement for Student Veterans and served as a panelist for the session on Diversity: The Value Veterans Bring to the Workplace led by Prudential.
Following the conference, 18 of the 23 student attendees embarked on a two-day career immersion and networking event with well-known employers including Viacom CBS Los Angeles, NBCUniversal and Paramount Pictures. Students had the opportunity to meet with employer’s veteran networks, explore multiple career paths and learn the value their military experience brings into the civilian sector.
“The immersion was a once in a lifetime opportunity to talk with employers,” says Ryan Marquette ’22, a first-year law student at Syracuse, veteran and current National Guardsman. “This experience made us to think ‘outside the box’ in regard to employment after graduation. Student veterans often compartmentalize their talent, education and background into specific career tracts, but the immersion opened our eyes to the diversity and value that our skills sets have in any organization.”
Syracuse students attended the conference thanks to generous support from donors to the Veterans Legacy Fund (VLF). The fund offers scholarships and special event programming.