Gannon receives recognition as military friendly

Gannon University has been named to the 2012 List of “Military Friendly Schools” by G.I. Jobs Magazine, a publication that helps veterans find opportune education and employment.

Lauren Theisen, undergraduate adult recruiter at the Center for Adult Learning, said that this recognition is a testament to the hard work that Gannon puts in to catering to its veteran students.

This has not been the first time that Gannon received recognition for being a military friendly school. The university also appears on the 2011 list.

Theisen said that the university’s participation in the Yellow Ribbon Program is a contributing factor to the recognition. The program is designed to allow for colleges and universities to partner with the Department of Veterans Affairs to grant scholarships to veterans in their pursuit of college degrees.

Gannon has been a part of the Yellow Ribbon Program since 2009, according to Theisen.

“I think with the addition of the Yellow Ribbon Program, that made a big difference,” Theisen said. “We are becoming more aware of what the veterans’ needs are.”

Theisen said that enrollment numbers of veteran students has risen since Gannon joined the Yellow Ribbon program. This year, more than 60 students are enrolled on campus who receive veterans benefits.

Rebecca Hill, a U.S. Army veteran, is currently in her final year seeking a bachelor’s degree in English. After her time in the military, Hill moved to Erie and applied to four area schools – Edinboro University, Mercyhurst College, Penn State Behrend and Gannon. But Hill said she thought that Gannon was going to give her the most financial aid.

“It’s difficult when you come out of the military because it’s a whole different world,” she said. “I had trouble adjusting.”

Before deciding to return to school, Hill submitted her résumé at several area career centers, but had little luck finding a job. She said that Gannon was more ready to recognize her military service and reward her with financial support than any other institution in Erie, besides the Veteran Affairs office.

According to Hill, Gannon gave her a $3,000 grant for her military service. Hill said that when considering which school to attend, she said she couldn’t see any other school in the area giving her as much aid as Gannon was willing to provide.

Theisen said that there are currently many “veteran-specific” services at Gannon, but the Center for Adult Learning is planning to make Gannon even more of a military friendly campus.

“The next step is to try to collaborate with the individuals who already work at Gannon to expand on what we can offer to the veterans,” Theisen said. “We’re interested in creating more services for them, more support on campus and getting people more aware of what the veterans’ needs are.”

Hill said that part of the reason Gannon is so compatible with veterans is because the university recognizes each individual’s academic potential and drive to complete his or her college degree.

“There’s work experience that you gain in the military that you don’t find anywhere else such as developing discipline and leadership skills,” Hill said.

“You basically get a mindset that allows you to do so much more than the average person, and I think Gannon recognizes that ability in their vets, and that’s one reason why they’re probably so happy to take us on.”

DAN KUBACKI

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