Military Student Advocacy Day in Columbus highlights BGSU support for military and veteran students
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Ohio lawmakers hear of the BGSU commitment to military service, education and student success through its nationally ranked veterans’ programs.
In concert with the national recognition received by Bowling Green State University for its excellence in programs for military and veteran students, representatives from the University recently met with Ohio lawmakers in Columbus to discuss the many ways BGSU supports active military and veteran students with its mission of higher education.
BGSU students Madelyn Goodale and Joshua Tinney shared their experiences throughout Military Student Advocacy Day, giving lawmakers a glimpse of how the University supports students like themselves and how an adapt, overcome and excel mindset extends from the military to higher education.
BGSU is ranked as the No. 1 university in the Midwest for its comprehensive services, support and commitment to the success of veterans and active military students, according to Military Times' Best for Vets: College 2023 rankings.
The University has been recognized as a top academic choice consecutively since 2013 by the annual Best for Vets rankings, which named BGSU as the best in the Midwest for three consecutive years. Nationally, BGSU ranks No. 11 in the largest and most comprehensive ranking of military-friendly institutions.
The students along with Dr. Barbara Henry, assistant vice president of Nontraditional and Military Student Services, and Geoff Roberts, military program coordinator, discussed their experiences and the University’s mission during seven meetings in Columbus.
"The mission of BGSU Nontraditional and Military Student Services is built upon fully supporting our veterans and military-connected students from the moment they enroll at BGSU through their graduation," Henry said. "This involves support not only in the academic realm but also in all aspects of student success, in and out of the classroom, through our personalized, student-centered approach."
Goodale, a junior biology major, serves in the Ohio Army National Guard and is co-president of the BGSU chapter of Student Veterans of America, a national organization focused on providing military veterans with the resources, support and advocacy needed to succeed in higher education and following graduation. Tinney, also serving with the Ohio Army National Guard, is the SVA treasurer. He's a senior majoring in management and technology.
Henry said the visit to the state capital provided BGSU not only an opportunity to demonstrate to lawmakers the commitment that the University makes to military-connected students but also to offer up expertise in this area as a resource for lawmakers.
The BGSU contingent connected with lawmakers and military and veterans relations officials including:
- Ohio Sen. Theresa Gavarone (R-Bowling Green)
- Ohio Rep. Haraz Ghanbari (R-Perrysburg)
- the office of Ohio Rep. Mike Loychik (R-Bazetta)
- Ohio Rep. Joseph A. Miller III (D-Lorain County)
- Ohio Rep. Justin Pizzulli (R-Scioto County)
- Ohio Rep. Elgin Rogers Jr. (D-Toledo)
- Tammy Puff, director of Military and Veteran Relations for Gov. Mike DeWine’s office
- Maj. Gen. Deborah Ashenhurst (U.S. Army, retired), director of the Ohio Department of Veterans Services, and Lucas Denney, chief legislative officer at the Ohio Department of Veteran Services.
The PAVE – Peer Advising for Veteran Education – and the GEM – General Education Mobile – programs at BGSU were among the topics explored during advocacy day. With student veterans attending college in greater numbers since the passing of the Post/9-11 GI Bill, BGSU recognized as far back as 2010 that these students needed to be supported differently since they face unique transition challenges that can affect their pursuit of higher education. The University committed to dedicating its resources to make sure BGSU military and veteran students are supported every step of the way and achieve their ultimate educational and career goals.
Goodale and Tinney are peer advisors in the PAVE program, in which all service members, veterans and dependents are assigned a military peer supporter. PAVE is a peer support program that connects incoming student veterans with student veterans already on campus. PAVE peer advisors then help identify challenges that student veterans are facing and help locate appropriate resources on or off campus. They provide ongoing support to help student veterans meet academic and personal goals.
"The PAVE Program has been instrumental in ensuring new student veterans have the tools they need to be successful at BGSU. I like giving back and helping students be set up for success at BGSU," Goodale said. "I attribute a lot of my success at BGSU to Nontraditional and Military Student Services because it’s given me motivation to stay on top of my grades. While I was deployed, I always got a response from Dave Rice in the office within a day. It enabled me to take classes while deployed overseas."
BGSU was one of just three schools nationwide that were approached to participate in what was then a pilot program in 2013. The University is still making a significant impact on veterans-turned-students by providing the three crucial pillars of outreach, support and links to resources.
"I enjoy being someone who is invested in the success of student veterans in the PAVE program," Tinney said. "I appreciate that the PAVE program and NTMSS office recognize the challenges of military students and provide relief for those challenges. I like being a part of that. NTMSS provides an environment where academic success is encouraged. The office helped me to be more academically successful due to their attention on academics."
The GEM partnership with the U.S. Air Force makes it possible for Air Force personnel stationed around the world to work toward a college degree through BGSU under an agreement with the Community College of the Air Force (CCAF). This partnership streamlines the process for CCAF students to complete their general education requirements through BGSU, which allows for faster degree completion.
GEM courses -- which are offered in a distance-learning format at any time, anywhere – reduce the educational impact of deployments, permanent change of station process, and family commitments.
The Ohio legislators were receptive to the advocacy day presentations and expressed support for active military and veteran students, offering to find solutions and extend assistance where possible.
After the students’ presentations, Ohio Rep. Elgin Rogers Jr. (D-Toledo) hailed the support that the PAVE program provides military-connected students at BGSU.
“BGSU is in a class of its own when it comes to supporting our veterans. The PAVE program provides support and resources for the women and men who serve their country while pursuing their academic goals,” Rogers said. “BGSU meets the mark with dedicated staff and committed students who inspire us all to make our contributions to the world count! I would like to thank BGSU for giving students the support needed to develop the networks they desire to achieve success beyond college and active duty.”
Ohio Sen. Theresa Gavarone (R-Bowling Green) is a BGSU alumna herself, earning her bachelor of science degree in business administration from the University. Gavarone cited the University's approach to supporting military-connected students as a program to be emulated.
“It was a pleasure to meet two impressive military students from Bowling Green State University, who exemplify selfless service and incredible strength,” Gavarone said. “BGSU is truly inspiring these students as they pursue their next steps. Their stories underscore why BGSU is the best in the Midwest and among the top in the nation for our military students, making the institution a successful model for others across the country.”
Ohio Rep. Haraz Ghanbari (R-Perrysburg) spoke extensively with the BGSU contingent, reflecting upon the presentations with his own unique perspectives as a veteran and nontraditional student himself.
"Bowling Green State University continues to stand as an institution of higher education committed to serving our service members, veterans and their families as they transition from military service to the classroom and beyond," Ghanbari said. "As a Naval officer and former Army sergeant, I was honored to meet with my fellow veterans during their visit to the Statehouse. Through our service, we share a unique bond, and a commitment to helping the next generation of veterans have a successful transition. The future of our state will be better off in part because of those veterans who call Ohio home and invest in our communities the way so many who came before us have done over the generations."
Best for Vets Rankings
The University's consistent support of veterans and military students led to BGSU ranking No. 1 in the Midwest and No. 11 nationally for veterans and active military students by Military Times in its Best for Vets: Colleges 2023 rankings.
BGSU also was designated a Collegiate Purple Star campus in 2022 by Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine and Ohio Department of Higher Education Chancellor Randy Gardner for its efforts to support students with military backgrounds. The University was among the first group of 33 Ohio colleges and universities to receive the distinction.
The University's personalized, student-centered approach and services - like tutoring and a student veteran center equipped with computers and free printing - sets BGSU apart from other colleges and universities.
“BGSU is consistently recognized for our support of service members and veterans thanks to the ongoing dedication of our students, staff and faculty. Most important is the positive support and encouragement our students receive on campus and in the local community,” Henry said.
Key to this nationally recognized programming is the personnel at the Nontraditional and Military Student Services office. This office offers a crucial network of resources and support for active-duty and veteran students, providing a personal touch as they navigate the sometimes-complex system of military benefits in coordination with enrollment and classes.
NTMSS personnel help to keep these students on track as they deal with transitioning between being full-time students and serving in the military, balancing their academic schedules with deployments and active military duties, and many more intricacies that are unique to each student.
In addition to offering students a quiet place to study or do homework, NTMSS provides one-on-one counseling, peer support and connections with outside organizations like the Department of Veterans Affairs and Student Veterans of America.
The University’s recognition of those who serve the nation also has a permanent and visible place on campus with its Veterans Memorial, which stands in Carillon Park outside the Jerome Library.
The BGSU Veterans Memorial features five pillars — representing branches of the U.S. military — inscribed with the names of alumni and student service members who died while in service to their country. The memorial includes 112 names, ranging from WWI to the global war on terror in Afghanistan. The memorial is open year-round and serves as a place where people can pause and reflect on the selfless service of those in the U.S. Armed Forces.
“It gives everyone who passes by a chance to pause and reflect on the service and sacrifice that veterans have made, and continue to make, for our country," Henry said. “This is a beautiful, yet simple tribute to our nation's fallen heroes. It is a restful and contemplative place that allows anyone to reflect and remember the service members who have given the ultimate sacrifice for us to enjoy our way of life."
Updated: 11/09/2023 02:18PM