Student Veterans Association – The Citadel Today Fri, 19 Mar 2021 20:54:34 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Student Veterans Association – The Citadel Today 32 32 144096890 #VeteranOfTheDay Army Veteran Ashley Towers Sat, 20 Mar 2021 10:00:00 +0000 After her service, she earned a BA in Intelligence and Security Studies from The Citadel and is the Student Veterans Association president. ]]>

As seen on the Official Blog of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

Ashley Towers grew up in a small town in upstate New York. In 2008, she accompanied her brother on his visit to a National Guard recruiter and ended up enlisting along with him. Towers was 22 at the time and already had an associate’s degree in criminal justice, but she wanted to do more service with her life and see more of the world. Those considerations, in addition to the education benefits, made the Army appealing to Towers.

Towers wanted to be close to combat, but at that time women couldn’t serve as infantry or Rangers, so she chose to serve in the New York Army National Guard’s military police. Towers’ basic training and advanced individual training were both at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. Training and graduation reaffirmed Towers’ decision to join.

After graduation, Towers’ unit deployed to Ramadi, Iraq, as part of the transition team for the changeover from Operation Iraqi Freedom to Operation New Dawn. While on an operation in a hostile area, her convoy was hit with a hand-thrown explosive device. The device hit the armored vehicle Towers was driving. Despite the shock, everyone made it out of the area and back to base.

After being in Iraq for a year, Towers came home in 2011. While living in New York she was part of the response team after Hurricane Sandy. For this domestic mission, she assisted the New Jersey Fire Department with debris clearing and rescue missions. In 2014, Towers volunteered to extend her active time with the National Guard to go to Guantanamo Bay. While there, she worked on the oversight of the camps and was part of the joint detention group task force.

Towers served for eight years and left the military as a sergeant. After her service, she earned a bachelor’s degree in Intelligence and Security Studies from The Citadel in South Carolina and is currently serving as the president at The Citadel Student Veterans Association.

Thank you for your service!

A veteran, student, alumnus and coordinator — meet Jesse Brooks Mon, 09 Nov 2020 20:30:02 +0000 An integral part of The Citadel is the Veteran Student Success Center, open to both day and evening veteran students.]]>

The Military College of South Carolina is, in addition to being a leadership laboratory for the Corps of Cadets, where many former service members choose to complete or continue their education.

An integral part of The Citadel’s support for those students is the Veteran Student Success Center (VSSC), open to both day and evening veteran students.

In addition to supporting academics, one of the VSSC’s primary missions is to foster social interaction and community-building for veterans on campus.

These things would not be possible without the Veteran Services Coordinator, Jesse Brooks; he also assists the school’s certifying official.

Jesse Brooks, a Citadel Graduate College student and Veterans Services Coordinator, works in the Veteran Student Success Center at The Citadel

Brooks, one of The Citadel’s many student veterans, is also a full-time employee. He processes students’ VA Education Benefits, while also planning, coordinating and collaborating on events for veterans.

If that weren’t enough, Brooks also serves as the advisor for The Citadel’s Student Veteran Association, which also works to help further veteran initiatives, while building relationships both on and off campus.

When he’s not in the VSSC, Brooks is working towards completing a Master’s of Education in Higher Education Leadership.

“When I am not at working here or at home doing school work, I enjoy spending my time with my daughters, Adalyn and Kayla. They were a big driving force for me to continue my education and to get my degree, just so I could hope to be a good example for them. I always tell them to question things until they are satisfied learning about it, and to go in with as much interest as possible.”

Jesse Brooks, USN (Ret.), Citadel Class of 2020
Jesse Brooks graduating from the Naval Nuclear Power School

Learn more about the former Navy nuclear machinist mate here:

When did you retire from service? Did you come to The Citadel immediately after? If not, what did you do between?

I honorably discharged in 2014.  Prior to discharging I had already had a job lined up in Atlanta, GA, at a natural gas plant. I worked there for three years before deciding I needed a career change and to go to college. I initially went to pursue a Mechanical Engineering degree; but, after several life events, I realized what I really wanted to do was help people. It was at that point I transferred to The Citadel and began to work on my B.A. in Psychology.

Jesse Brooks with Bachelor of Arts degree from The Citadel

How did you hear about The Citadel, especially being from Hawaii? Where did you earn your undergrad?

So I am a military brat. I was born in Honolulu, lived in San Antonio, and finished middle school in Germantown, OH (about an hour north of Cincinnati). I first heard about The Citadel when I was stationed here, from 2010-2012, when I was going through the Navy’s Nuclear Training Pipeline. When my buddies and I would go downtown on the weekends, we would always see the cadets walking around, and we just ended up chatting with a couple of them. We were just asking each other about The Citadel, being in the military and enjoying conversing.

What do you hope to use your M.Ed. for after graduation? When do you expect to graduate?

I plan on using my M.Ed. to move up into high executive type positions within an institution. Ideally, I would love to become a department head of veteran/military affairs/services because this is a demographic of students and people in general that I enjoy working with and for. I expect to graduate in Fall 2021, if everything goes to plan.

What does it mean to you, being able to help other veterans earn degrees and to be part of a community here on campus?

Helping veterans, to me, is the very least I can do for these people. Regardless, if someone does one year or retires, these people made a sacrifice that I will always be grateful for. I grew up in a military family, these are the people that I am used to. Any one of them would drop whatever they are doing to help out someone else. I just want to be that person to help them.

What’s your favorite part of your job or The Citadel as a whole?

My favorite part of my job is when I can just take a small break from the computer and talk to a student. Doesn’t have to be advising, counseling, about school, but I usually bring the conversation back around to how things are going here, any issues with classes or the VA and then just let them know that if they need help to reach out.

What I enjoy most at The Citadel, especially as a student, is the atmosphere. I feel had I gone to any other college, I would have been less motivated to do the work. At The Citadel, there is this feeling of discipline and structure that is so reminiscent of the military, that I knew I could do nothing but succeed.

Do you ever interact with cadets? If so, how? Do you ever give advice or support to those planning to go into the military after graduation?

I do interact with cadets, less now, than when I was in my undergrad, but I still interact with those who are using VA Education Benefits. I never really “advised” many cadets unless they were wanting to go into the Navy, and especially if they were wanting to go into the Nuclear Program. I feel like I know enough about those two to give a cadet enough information. Regardless, I would (and still do) support those who plan on joining the military. To me there is nothing more selfless you can do than to serve your country, in peace or war.

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Meet Ashley Towers, incoming president of the Student Veteran Association Thu, 02 Jul 2020 20:17:11 +0000 The Citadel Student Veterans Association is a student-governed organization that assists veteran students enrolled at the Military College of South Carolina]]>

The Citadel Student Veterans Association (SVA) is a student-governed organization, made up of veterans from all branches of the U.S. armed services, that assists veteran students enrolled at the Military College of South Carolina.

The SVA works to serve as points-of-contact and mentors for veterans on campus. Members also help guide students on the college’s traditions, policies and procedures. In addition to giving guided tours, members are active participants in extracurricular sports and campus clubs while also giving back to the community by participating in volunteer work through the Krause Center for Leadership and Ethics.

Ashley Towers, a veteran day student majoring in Intelligence and Security Studies, will lead the SVA in the 2020-2021 academic year. Learn more about her, and her plans for the SVA, below.

First, tell us a little bit about yourself?

I grew up in a very small town in upstate New York and after completing an AS in Criminal Justice: Police Science. I knew I wanted to continue with education, but I also needed to get out to do something of service and see more of the world. My younger brother decided he wanted to speak with a National Guard recruiter, and we both committed to enlisting that day.

What was your time in the National Guard like?

I served for eight years in the New York Army National Guard’s military police. I deployed to Iraq and Guantanamo Bay and responded to Hurricane Sandy. I was an E-5 sergeant when I finished my term. 

What does it mean to you to be a veteran at The Citadel?

I’ve attended college at other institutions, and I have never received the type of faculty and staff support as I have at The Citadel. The history, the prestige and the name recognition of The Citadel is really impressive. Through Citadel alumni, career fairs, networking, events and other veteran students, I have been provided some amazing opportunities to connect with people I look up to and strive to reach their level of professional success. I really couldn’t imagine enjoying and succeeding in my academic career path had I chosen anywhere else.

Why did you want to serve as president of the SVA this year?

I wanted to be more involved with the SVA. Other commitments during previous semesters kept me from being as active as I would have liked to be, and I felt in the upcoming semester that I could commit the time and effort to serve on behalf of my fellow veterans and the amazing faculty and staff that support us. My decision to put my name in the running was solidified when I received messages from other veterans supporting me for president— to me that’s a big thing.

What kinds of things do you want to do to improve the veteran experience on campus?

I hope to continue the path that previous Citadel SVA presidents have laid in advocating for and enhancing the veteran experience — they’ve done some great work in creating an understanding of what and who the veteran student body is on campus. I’d like to foster growth of interaction between cadets and veterans. Luke Darling, SVA vice president, had a great idea last semester to offer cadets who have commissioned an introduction to a veteran to talk about what to expect or just to talk about the service in general. It would be great to see a luncheon or a fun event held between veterans and cadets. Most of all, the veterans on campus have already served our country and in that service, upheld the values and ethics The Citadel seeks to instill in cadets, and I want to promote a veteran experience where our veterans are included, acknowledged and appreciated.

What extracurricular activities are you involved in other than the SVA?

Currently, I am conducting research with Dr. Jordana Navarro. Next semester I will also be serving as the president of The Citadel’s chapter of Omicron Delta Kappa national leadership honor society. Unfortunately, COVID-19 has disrupted one of my favorite extracurricular activities for the foreseeable future—travel! Last year I participated in the study abroad programs to Georgia and Estonia, and additionally traveled to England, the Czech Republic, Finland and Scotland. I just had to postpone until next year a trip I had scheduled for traveling to Grenada in August. I’ve been keeping busy during the quarantine with my Peloton bike that, luckily, I had decided to purchase only a few weeks before the virus set in. 

Ranked as the No. 1 College for Veterans in the South by U.S. News & World Report in 2019 and 2020, The Citadel offers veterans the opportunity to complete or advance their educations in an environment where military service is understood and appreciated. Approximately 240 veterans currently attend The Citadel as day-student undergraduates, evening undergraduates or graduate students.