While fall classes on the Texas A&M University campus don’t begin until later in August, 20 prospective students—all U.S. enlisted veterans—will take their seats in a classroom on campus Sunday morning to begin an immersive weeklong academic boot camp designed to teach them good study habits and ease their transition to college life.
It’s the first time that Texas A&M—or any university in Texas—has played host campus to the Warrior-Scholar Project, which helps to address veterans’ misperceptions about college and builds their confidence through an intense academic reorientation. Other 2017 host universities include Cornell, Georgetown, Harvard and Princeton universities, as well as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of Michigan, Yale University and several others.
“We are thrilled to welcome student veterans from across the nation to Aggieland for this transformational program,” said Texas A&M University President Michael K. Young. “Our commitment to launch into the world highly trained students with the ability to make the world a better place is unwavering regardless of whether they are here for one week or four years. We are very proud of our student veterans and the incredible Veteran Resource and Support Center for their work in making this opportunity a reality for these U.S. enlisted veterans and look forward to its great success.”
The program helps former enlisted service members seeking their first college degree develop and rediscover the skills and confidence necessary to successfully complete a four-year undergraduate program. It is focused on three pillars: academic writing and reading; tactical and technical skills, such as notetaking, studying, and time management; and confidence-building and transition.
All of the 84 veterans who have completed previous Warrior-Scholar programs are still enrolled at four-year institutions. Five of the veterans attending Texas A&M’s session have already been accepted at Texas A&M and will begin their fall classes Aug. 28. The others are either attending other universities or intend to enroll in the near future. By the end of this school year, 190 veterans will have completed the program at one of 12 U.S. schools.
Enlisted veterans often enter the military directly from high school, resulting in a long absence from the classroom upon their transition out. This can discourage veterans, who often lack the confidence necessary for success in academia.
“I first saw a video about the Warrior-Scholar Project, I knew immediately that it was exactly what I needed to prepare for my freshman year at Texas A&M,” said Jarrod Romine, campus program coordinator for Texas A&M’s Warrior-Scholar Project and a sophomore studying political science, pre-med and public health. “I knew as soon as I completed the program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill that I would find a way to bring the program to Texas A&M.”
A veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, Romine served more than eight years, deploying four times during that period. Last year he was selected as one of 60 Tillman Scholars for his extraordinary academic and leadership potential. He is also employed as a student worker for the Veteran Resource and Support Center, part of the Division of Student Affairs.
Romine and other Texas A&M stakeholders worked for months to bring the program to campus. Several Texas A&M faculty and staff volunteer to teach mini-classes and direct short seminars during the week, most of which will be held in Francis Hall. Other Texas A&M officials have volunteered to present to the veterans during evening dinners on campus.
David Cornavaca, a veteran U.S. Navy corpsman, is hoping the Warrior-Scholar Project is just what he needs to strengthen study habits such as writing and reading, before he begins a kinesiology program on the Texas A&M campus later this summer. “I know this is going to be well worth the time and effort to prepare me for college life,” he said. “A program like this puts veterans in a better position going forward. When we start classes, we want to be calm and prepared, and not feeling like the chaos of the first day of boot camp.”
For five years, Cornavaca served the naval hospital in Lemoore, Calif., and also the 3rd Battalion 5th Marine Regiment in Okinawa. He also spent time training in Camp Fuji and South Korea, and he is a member of the Navy Reserves based in Houston. While he’s not the first in his family to attend college, Cornavaca is the first to do so in the United States; his father is from Nicaragua and his mother was born in El Salvador.
The cost of previous Warrior-Scholar programs has averaged about $60,000, but nearly all of the costs are funded by the Warrior-Scholar Project in partnership with numerous private donors and organizations.
“What these student veterans are about to experience will change their perspective and will allow them to approach their college journey with new skills and confidence,” said Col. Jerry Smith, director of Texas A&M’s Veteran Resource Support Center and U.S. Marine Corps veteran. “They have served our country in some of the most challenging situations and environments you can imagine, so we know that with a little extra help they can successfully earn a college degree and excel in their future careers. In the process, they will be exposed to the core values that define Texas A&M University, so even those who enroll elsewhere will take a little bit of Aggieland with them.”
To learn more, visit warrior-scholar.org.
Part of the Division of Student Affairs, the Veteran Resource and Support Center provides personalized support to all Aggie student veterans and military-affiliated dependents by identifying, developing, and delivering uniquely-tailored resources and programs. In addition, it provides a welcoming space, peer mentoring, and tools to help student veterans succeed academically and personally.
The Division of Student Affairs supports Texas A&M University by providing exceptional services, facilities, and programs that promote student success, embody the Aggie spirit, and foster a diverse and inclusive campus community to deepen the understanding and individual application of the Aggie Core Values – excellence, integrity, leadership, loyalty, respect, and selfless service.