By: LESLIE LESTINSKY
How long have you been with the Student Veterans Organization? I became involved June of this year. I began working with Veteran Affairs and decided to pick up the cause of the Student Veterans Organization (SVO).
What brought you to this campus? I am from South Bend. I graduated from Marian in 2001. I went to University of Southern Indiana for a year and did awful. I decided it’s not smart to take out student loans and not succeed. I then joined the National Guard. In 2014, my time there was done. I came to IU South Bend and have been here studying part-time and full-time status, working and deployed. This academic year I am enrolled full time, finishing my degree and should be graduating in May. That is part of how I became involved in SVO. My last year here, I wanted to be really focused on school. IU South Bend has always been a convenient choice for me and the GI bill covers my courses here.
Tell our readers anything you want to share about your military experience. I served in the National Guard for 12 years. I was deployed in 2007 and 2008. I was in Baghdad, Iraq and Louisiana to help with Hurricane Katrina. I drilled here in South Bend.
What academic opportunities have you experienced because you are a veteran student? I had the opportunity to go to Cornell University for a week to participate in the Warrior Scholar Program. Hunter Rollins, the former president of the university, volunteered his time to spearhead the course that was essentially an academic boot camp for veterans. The head of the law school at Cornell also taught a course on the constitution. He broke it down line by line. We heard from a handful of top minds on various subjects from prestigious universities around the nation. They were very intelligent, caring and motivating. The theme of the program was democracy in America. For military personnel, in our oath, the only thing we swear to die for is the constitution. The organizers of this program had the objective of asking attendees to question how much do we actually know about the constitution. We were taught how to dissect it along with several readings. A professor from their writing center worked with us every day to perfect our writing skills. It was an amazing opportunity. I wish I would have known about it three years ago. When I went there, I had the mindset “I just need to get my degree and get a job.” When I left there, I started thinking about graduate school, and I know I can achieve these things. These ideals and values are what we hope to develop and facilitate here at IU South Bend through the SVO and show other veterans that they can also achieve these things. I also had the opportunity to go down to Eli Lilly through the Student Veterans of America and learn more about business and strategy. At the end of the program we presented a business plan to Lilly recruiters. These kinds of programs that afford these kinds of exposures are extremely beneficial.
What life lessons did you learn while in the military? Like everything in life, it is what you put into it. The more you put into it, the more opportunity you’re going to have.
What are you studying here at IU South Bend? Finance.
What are you reading, watching, listening to right now? I’m reading a lot of textbooks and Harry Potter to my nine-year-old son. I’m watching sports, excited for the new Star Wars. I’m listening to whatever my various Pandora stations will play.
What advice do you have for students? Use the school and their resources; they’re here for a reason. Once I learned that, it made a big difference in my education. It also forces you to be a little more accountable and involved.
Zachary can be contacted at:
SVO Office: Administration Building Room 118C (574)-520-4698 firstname.lastname@example.org
Facebook: IU South Bend Student Veteran Organization