Nineteen students students participated in Texas A&M University’s first-ever Warrior-Scholar Project last week to gain the skills necessary to thrive at top universities.
By Athlyn Allen, Texas A&M University Division of Student Affairs
After 21 years of serving as an intelligence analyst in the U.S. Army, Felicia Martinez is ready to start her journey through higher education. Last week, she and 18 other students participated in Texas A&M University’s first-ever Warrior-Scholar Project to gain the skills necessary to compete at top universities.
“I came looking for writing skills, but I got so much more,” Martinez said. “Everyone comes for their own reasons, whether it’s reading, writing or time management. It eases the transition to the college atmosphere and mindset.”
The Warrior-Scholar Project gives veterans the confidence and skills to pursue a degree and a more secure future. Fifteen campuses across the country host the program, including universities such as Yale, Harvard and Cornell. The only requirement is that applicants be veterans of the U.S. armed services with an interest in higher education.
Martinez, a native of Alice, Texas, is not your typical college student. After four deployments in Iraq, Afghanistan and Jordan, the 40-year-old single mother, who lives with her daughter in Anthony, New Mexico, is ready to earn a degree. The Warrior-Scholar Project is giving Martinez an added boost as she makes plans to attend New Mexico State University later this summer to study animal science and making her transition from military life to the classroom much less stressful.
Nineteen veterans, including several who were in Texas for the first time, experienced an intensive, weeklong program to hone skills such as time management, effective note-taking, academic reading and writing. As part of the program, scholars learn and live the Aggie core values of excellence, integrity, leadership, loyalty, respect and selfless service.
Two Aggie Veterans Selected As 2017 Tillman Scholars
Texas A&M faculty and staff involved in this program volunteered to teach mini-classes and direct short seminars during the week. The project focuses on humanities, including government and philosophy classes. Texas A&M Warrior-Scholar Campus Program Coordinator Jarrod Romine is working toward a two-week STEM program in the future that will incorporate science, technology, engineering and math. Each year, the program is growing across the country, adding more campuses so that all interested veterans can easily attend.
Romine is a graduate of the program at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. It gave him a jump-start for his freshman year at Texas A&M, where he is now a junior studying political science with a minor in public health. A veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, Romine has been deployed four times in the span of his eight-year service and now works as a student for the Veteran Resource and Support Center, part of the Texas A&M Division of Student Affairs. He is a recipient of the Tillman Scholar Award.
“When I first saw the video about the Warrior-Scholar Project, I knew immediately that it was exactly what I needed,” Romine said. “I knew as soon as I completed the program in North Carolina that I would find a way to bring the program to Texas A&M.”
When he arrived at Texas A&M, its Veteran Resource and Support Center was already trying to find a way to get the Warrior-Scholar Project to campus.
“Because I was at the right place at the right time, I was able to get someone from the Warrior-Scholar Project to come down and talk about how to make it happen,” he said.
David Cornavaca, a scholar from Amarillo, Texas, who completed the program last week, will attend Texas A&M University to study kinesiology in hopes of becoming a physical therapist or athletic trainer after graduation. After serving the U.S. Navy as a corpsman, he needed this program to prepare for a large university like Texas A&M. During his week on campus, Cornavaca brushed up on several academic skills – primarily reading.
“I use to just read, but it was like pushing against brute force … now I read strategically: I read, stop, reflect and just take it slower so I understand it more,” he said. “The program coordinators and host campuses take care of everything, and more important, they take care of you, so just apply and show up.”
Five of the veterans who attended the Texas A&M Warrior-Scholar Project have already been accepted to Texas A&M, and another 14 have been accepted at other universities. They will begin classes in the fall. Others plan to enroll in the near future. By the end of this summer, 190 veterans will have experienced the program in the United States.
The average cost of the Warrior-Scholar Project is about $60,000 per university, which allows students to experience all aspects of the program for free, except for the transportation necessary to get there. While private donors and organizations provide most of the funding for the program, Romine hopes to secure donations from additional individuals, corporations and organizations that would like to see it flourish at Texas A&M.
Veteran Resource and Support Center (VRSC)
The center supports Texas A&M’s Division of Student Affairs’ vision of preeminence by identifying, developing and providing uniquely tailored services that enhance academic success and holistic development among veterans and military-affiliated students, which include active duty, reserve, National Guard, military families, and survivors. The VRSC facilitates Aggie veteran and military-affiliated student transitions by integrating the Aggie core values with a foundational philosophy of “Serve Well Those Who Have Served.”
Texas A&M University Division of Student Affairs
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.