By Elizabeth Lehman
Youngstown State University puts effort into making going to school easier for the men and women who serve or have served in the US military. YSU offers amenities to military students including waiving fees, offering smaller veterans-only classes, financial aid benefits and scheduling privileges.
In 2014, YSU opened its $1.3 million Veterans Resource Center. The 2-story, 6,000 square foot building has a student lounge, classroom, computer lab, conference room and a kitchenette area. Funds were raised entirely by private donations from nearly 200 donors.
According to Rick Williams, coordinator of the Veterans Resource Center, YSU has 352 student veterans on campus this fall.
The Jambar spoke with two military students about their experience here at YSU.
Paul Arthur, a social work major, is a senior at YSU. He is a work-study student and works at the Veteran’s Resource Center.
“We are the only campus in the state that has a building dedicated to veterans,” Arthur said.
Arthur served in the Marines from June of 1996 to August of 2001. He was deployed in
Kosovo during the US bombings of Kosovo in the late ‘90s. He returned to YSU in spring of 2015.
“When I first started looking into it, I didn’t even know about the Veterans Resource Center actually. In my searches, I found the number for Rick [Williams],” Arthur said. “When I started calling him and talking to him about coming to YSU, I thought, this will be a good place.”
Sophomore Sara McDowell said that YSU does an amazing job at accommodating veterans.
“From discussing benefits to answering any question I walk in with and even providing a safe and comfortable place to study, the veteran’s center has already been extremely helpful for me,” McDowell said.
McDowell joined the Army in May of 2015 and left for basic training in Fort Sill, Oklahoma in July. She returned home in February of 2016. She has not yet been deployed.
She had attended YSU before joining the Army and said coming back after completing her basic training was always part of her plan.
“I had already had a great experience at YSU my first year,” McDowell said, “with professors who were always willing to put in extra time to clarify any information from class, classmates who were just as eager as I was to learn; and many resources available for any class you may be struggling with that were so easily available.”
Returning to school after being deployed can be difficult. Arthur says student veterans can face some challenges.
“You’re walking through a town on patrol and there’s people all over the place and everybody’s got guns and you don’t know who is your friend and who is your foe,” Arthur says. “Then they get back here and they’re in college and you hear loud noises and you’re walking around and sometimes it sets guys off and they have issues.”
McDowell said her time so far in the Army has been a positive and challenging one.
“So far my experience has been unlike anything I ever would have imagined. It has been the hardest, amazing, and unexpected highs and lows of my life,” McDowell said. “I had to become aware of myself and take responsibility for every single one of my actions, good and bad.”
McDowell said she looks forward to her future at YSU.
“I look forward to furthering my education at YSU knowing they are open to working with me and all other veterans when it comes to serving our communities as well as our country,” McDowell said.