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University College Online Students Attend National Veterans Conference
The world of online learning continues to grow at a rapid pace as busy adults who want to earn a degree or certificate recognize the importance of flexibility and convenience while juggling responsibilities such as work, family and military service.
But there may be one drawback: online learning doesn’t always offer opportunities for face-to-face interaction with one’s peers. Three University College online student veterans were chosen to attend the recent Student Veterans Organization’s (SVA) National Conference in Los Angeles, and they were eager to join other student veterans for this networking and professional development opportunity. With a focus on student veteran success and post-graduation opportunities, they learned everything from landing an internship to transitioning from military to college life.
Shaei Rodriguez is in his fourth year of active duty in the Air Force, stationed at Camp Springs, Maryland. After earning an associate’s degree from the University of Maryland, he was drawn to University College’s bachelor’s degree in knowledge management, confident that it would enrich his military career.
“In the military I serve as one of my installation’s knowledge managers,” explains Rodriguez. “By majoring in knowledge management, I’m receiving schooling that goes beyond my standard training, thus enhancing my abilities as an airman.” After visiting Syracuse in July through the Warrior-Scholar Project, Rodriguez was inspired to apply to Syracuse University.
While he is not physically located on the Syracuse University campus, Rodriguez says the sense of Orange community extends to all military-related students who attend this University. He was honored to represent Syracuse University in Los Angeles. “At the SVA conference, I learned about the different resources and options available to student veterans,” says Rodriguez. “I now feel more prepared to navigate student life once I satisfy my commitment to the military.”
Christopher Springs from Alexandria, Virginia, is an Air Force veteran and is earning a bachelor’s degree online in cybersecurity administration through University College. Springs chose the program because it would advance the knowledge and skills he learned in the military. “While I served in the Air Force, I had to maintain an extremely high state of readiness to be able to perform my duties and functions anywhere around the globe,” he explains. “One of the facets of preparedness was cybersecurity, given our reliance on computers to complete our missions.” In his post-military life, Springs noticed that many members of his family aren’t as conscious or aware of the various threats related to cybersecurity. “So, I chose this field to better educate myself and to inform people on how to minimize their footprint to avoid being taken advantage of over the Internet.”
Springs is part of a long line of family members who have served their country. As an online student, he was honored to attend the conference that afforded him the opportunity to network with students from across the country who share a common bond. “I believe that the connections I made at the event are honestly the most valuable advancement I’ve made in my professional life,” says Springs.
Springs has had many defining moments in his life, from driving through the gates to military college for the first time to marrying his wife on a mountain. “And now, I can add the SVA National Conference to an ever-growing list of experiences that have shaped me into the man I am today,” he says.
Rodriguez and Springs agree that the conference was an educational experience that extended beyond the classroom. “Their aim is to inspire yesterday’s warriors by connecting student veterans with the necessary resources and support to create tomorrow’s leaders,” says Springs. If he could offer advice to other active duty military and veterans about his college experience, Springs suggests selecting a college that cares about you, selecting a program that has its act together and becoming part of a community that you are proud to be a part of. “I have found that at Syracuse University.”
“SU has been extremely generous with me, and I certainly feel valued as a student. I never imagined having the opportunity to attend an institution like Syracuse,” adds Rodriguez, who gives a shout-out to the 744th Communications Squadron. “Although I am an online student, being chosen to attend the conference proved to me that all students at Syracuse University are valued equally.”