James Lyons ’03, one of the first Syracuse University alumni killed during Operation Iraqi Freedom, was inducted into the University’s National Veterans Resource Center’s Hall of Honor on Oct. 15. He was also recognized as the “Hometown Hero” during halftime…
Applications Open for OVMA Student Veteran Undergraduate Award
The Office of Veteran and Military Affairs (OVMA) Student Veteran Undergraduate Internship Award is open for applications from Oct. 1 to May 31. This award provides up to $5,000 in financial assistance to undergraduate student veterans who are attending Syracuse University and interested in pursuing an internship over the summer semester. Student veterans can apply through Handshake.
This is a need-based award. Applications will be evaluated on how the funds requested will impact a student veteran’s ability to participate in the internship. The award can help offset the cost of travel, living expenses or tuition.
The first-ever awardee, Dustin Hall, says the Student Veteran Undergraduate Internship Award enabled him to participate in an internship last summer with OneGroup, an industry-leading risk management, insurance brokerage and employee benefits firm.
“As a student veteran, we’re not the typical college-aged students,” says Hall. “When I was looking at internships, I found a lot of great opportunities. However, I have bills and it was actually a challenge to find an internship where I could get by over the summer.”
Hall says the award was “a game-changer.”
“Not only was I getting college credit, but I was also getting funds that could sustain me through the 2 1/2 months of the internship,” says Hall.
The award removed the complexity of holding down a second job to supplement his income.
“I was able to not be so stressed about the money and just focus on the experience of the internship and making connections,” Hall says.
He says OneGroup recognized what he could contribute with his military experience, especially with his strict attention to detail learned in the Navy. Hall was an Aviation Boatswain’s Mate Handler on the USS Theodore Roosevelt and later the USS George Washington.
“I would call it a mid-career internship,” he says. “You’re not getting stuck with doing basic intern stuff. They’re actually giving you real problems the company is facing.”
OVMA established the Internship Award in 2020 to eliminate the financial barriers that impede student veterans from participating in internships. Jennifer Pluta, the assistant director of Veteran Career Services, first looked at the University’s student veterans and found that only 6 to 8 percent of the undergraduate population was participating in summer internships. This was a concern since OVMA’s charge is to help student veterans find the right jobs following graduation and internships are a crucial component of their job search.
As a result of these findings, the OVMA Student Veteran Undergraduate Internship Award was created and opened to all full- and part-time undergraduate student veterans. The annual award provides financial assistance to undergraduate student veterans during the summer semester, when internships are most prevalent.
“Most traditional students can go back home over the summer,” Pluta says. “But for many student veterans, there is no back home. They may already have a family and need to pay for rent, utilities and food, and since non-paid internships are common you can see why a veteran is less likely to do an internship.”
Pluta says the top reason that student veterans go to college, as opposed to going directly into the workforce, is to obtain a degree to get a new career.
“By providing financial assistance for internships, we are supporting student veterans’ career pathways to employment,” Pluta says.
The OVMA Student Veteran Undergraduate Internship Award was only the first step for Hall. OneGroup invited him to continue working through the semester.
“OneGroup instantly embraced me and invited me to charity events. Not only did I get to see it from a OneGroup standpoint in terms of interacting with our clients and the community, but I got to meet a ton of connections,” says Hall. “Now graduating this coming fall, I have people reaching out to saying they’ve heard I’m in the market for a job. Asking me to send my application. It is the coolest feeling.”
For more information about the award, email Pluta at firstname.lastname@example.org. For those interested in learning more about how to make an impact on the life of a student veteran by providing the financial means for an internship, visit the Veteran Legacy Fund webpage.