Veteran Student Success Center – The Citadel Today https://today.citadel.edu Mon, 12 Sep 2022 16:09:58 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.8.5 https://today.citadel.edu/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/Citadel-Favion-new-150x150.png Veteran Student Success Center – The Citadel Today https://today.citadel.edu 32 32 144096890 U.S. News & World Report names The Citadel #1 Public College in the South for 12th straight year https://today.citadel.edu/u-s-news-world-report-names-the-citadel-1-public-college-in-the-south-for-12th-straight-year/ Mon, 12 Sep 2022 13:00:00 +0000 https://today.citadel.edu/?p=33008 College also ranked #1 College for Veterans in the South for the fifth year For the 12th consecutive year, The Citadel is the top-ranked public college in the South. The]]>

College also ranked #1 College for Veterans in the South for the fifth year

For the 12th consecutive year, The Citadel is the top-ranked public college in the South.

The new, 2023 rankings — which cover institutions offering up to a master’s degree — were released by U.S. News & World Report on Monday, Sept. 12.

“It is a great honor to have Our Mighty Citadel recognized 12 years in a row as the #1 Public College in the South,” said The Citadel President Gen. Glenn Walters, USMC (Ret.), Class of 1979. “This ranking is a powerful acknowledgement of the dedicated work from all members of The Citadel Family — cadets, students, alumni, faculty, staff, parents and supporters. I could not be more proud to be a part of such a passionate institution.”

Other notable rankings include:

  • #1 Best Colleges for Veterans – Regional Universities (South)
  • #4 Undergraduate Teaching – Regional Universities (South)
  • #16 Best Value – Regional Universities (South)
  • #21 Best Undergraduate Engineering, nationwide (non-doctoral)
  • #164 Best Undergraduate Business, nationwide
  • #194 Best Undergraduate Computer Science, nationwide

“We are thrilled for U.S. News & World Report to highlight, year after year, the great outcomes our cadets and students experience at The Citadel,” said Provost Sally Selden, Ph.D., SPHR. “These rankings, both college-wide and degree-specific, are testament to the strength of our educational system at The Citadel which offers cadets and students distinctive opportunities in their academic pursuits, character development and leadership growth.”

This is also the fifth consecutive year The Citadel has been ranked as #1 Best College for Veterans in the South. The Military College of South Carolina offers veterans the opportunity to earn their degrees through the day program, evening program and The Citadel Graduate College.

In addition, The Citadel ranked #21 nationally in Undergraduate Engineering — the highest of any college in South Carolina offering up to a Master’s degree. The School of Engineering offers degrees in Civil Engineering, Construction Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Computer Engineering, Mechanical Engineering and Project Management.

For more information on the Tommy and Victoria Baker School of Business, click here. To learn more about the Computer Science programs offered at The Citadel, click here.

U.S. News & World Report was one of the first American publishers to produce a college rankings list based on a complex formula of publicly reported data that is submitted to the U.S. Department of Education annually by all institutions of higher education.

To learn more about the methodology used for these rankings, click here.

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“I can’t think of a school that I would want to swap The Citadel with”: Meet Army veteran student Catherine Rodriguez https://today.citadel.edu/i-cant-think-of-a-school-that-i-would-want-to-swap-the-citadel-with-meet-army-veteran-student-catherine-rodriguez/ Mon, 15 Nov 2021 19:50:00 +0000 https://today.citadel.edu/?p=28627 US Army Veteran day studentUS Army Veteran day studentCatherine Rodriguez is a veteran day student pursuing a degree in Business Administration; she also volunteers for Greyhound Pets of America.]]> US Army Veteran day studentUS Army Veteran day student

In recognition of Veterans Day on Nov. 11, The Citadel is highlighting some of the college’s exceptional veteran students from different branches of the U.S. Armed Forces.

There are approximately 250 veterans currently studying at The Citadel, either as undergraduate or graduate students. They have the option of taking their classes as day students alongside the Corps of Cadets, as evening students with other non-cadet undergraduates or online. In addition, they are provided with multiple resources through the Veteran Student Success Center on campus.

Named #1 Best College for Veterans in the South for three years in a row, the Military College of South Carolina is honored to help our nation’s heroes advance their education.

Q&A with Catherine Rodriguez, Class of 2023

Catherine Rodriguez is a veteran day student at The Citadel pursuing a degree in Business Administration with a minor in Fine Arts. After graduation, Rodriguez would like to own and operate her own art business. She volunteers for Greyhound Pets of America and, since Dec. 2018, has fostered 18 greyhounds.

What was your time in the military like, and why did you want to join?

After four years, I got out of the Army as an E5, so a sergeant. There are definitely a lot of hurdles that I faced while I was in the Army. But I grew so much as a person. I wouldn’t be the person I am today, if it wasn’t for my time in the Army. I became a more empathetic and stronger leader and better woman because of it. Even when I was working with terrible leaders — it’s the terrible leadership that you learn the most from because you understand how it feels to have to deal with somebody like that at work.

My dad and older sister were in the Air Force. I wanted to be like my older sister and I thought being a service member was the most admirable thing that you could do. I just wanted to be a part of it. I loved the idea of being able to be a part of something bigger than myself and being able to have an impact on so many people and be able to do so many things that I couldn’t just do as an individual person.

Did you come to The Citadel immediately after retiring, or do something else in between?

When I got out, I moved here in 2018. I didn’t feel ready to be around a military environment at the time, so I started at the College of Charleston in fall 2018. I also just started going through a separation from my husband. I don’t know what made me finally decide I wanted to do something different. I think that it felt like a lot of things were out of control. I thought it was going to be better if I went to The Citadel.

When I first got here, it was the fall of 2019. Then the divorce was so difficult. I don’t have any family here, so I was kind of by myself. And I didn’t want to let my GPA suffer, so I withdrew from all of my courses except for a painting class. I didn’t come back until spring of this year. I took a year off, just because I wanted everything to be settled down with the divorce.

I felt really bad about withdrawing. I felt dumb for withdrawing, but I ended up making dean’s list last semester. Now, when things get crazy, I try to keep in the back of my head that things will get better, things are temporary.

Greyhound art by Catherine Rodriguez

What experiences from your military service have prepared you to be a better student and/or citizen? (Or, to phrase it another way, how did the military make you better?)

Honestly, I faced a lot of challenges. And I really learned that, when bad things happen, they’re going to happen to you whether you’re a good or a bad person. It’s not like life picks and chooses — you could be the best person and things will still happen to you. So I really adopted this perspective that things just happen and it doesn’t make me a good person or a bad person. I’ve learned to not feel like bad things happen to me because I deserved them to happen to me.

I learned to appreciate things in my life. That’s probably been the biggest thing that I’ve gotten from my time in the Army. I think empathy is just so important to make connections with people. I think that’s what helps people. I don’t know that it’s going to fix a lot of the world’s problems, but I think if people were more empathetic, things would be better. I’ve tried to take all of those experiences that I’ve had in and tried to be a more empathetic person. I’ve tried to take the way that I was a leader in the military and now I’m trying to apply it and take these not-so-great situations and mishaps that I’ve seen and make something better out of it.

Are there any advantages to being a veteran at The Citadel?

It’s nice to be able to have this group of veterans that you can see in the class. It’s something that makes it easier to talk to people. You can always ask ‘Oh, what branch were you in?’

I think that the teachers are really understanding and really wonderful. And they know that I’m not an 18 year old who’s living in the dorms, I have a mortgage I pay and all these responsibilities and other things going on in my life.

Do you ever get to interact with cadets on campus? If so, what are those interactions like?

It’s nice when we talk to them and they’re really interested. It’s cool to be able to talk to people that really, really genuinely care and are excited to hear about what you have to say.

What’s your favorite thing about The Citadel as a whole?

I just feel like it’s just been such a better college experience at The Citadel than it would be at like any other university. And as veterans it’s nice to have a small, special group on campus.

I think I’m just having an overall more positive experience. The Citadel is the biggest thing keeping me in South Carolina. I mean, I really could go anywhere for school, but because of the college’s history and reputation, I really want to graduate from here. I can’t think of a school that I would want to swap The Citadel with.

Veterans interested in attending The Citadel can find information about programs and opportunities here. Additionally, information about benefits for veterans can be found here.

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On his way to two degrees: Meet Air Force veteran student Kevin Bosshart https://today.citadel.edu/on-his-way-to-two-degrees-meet-air-force-veteran-student-kevin-bosshart/ Fri, 12 Nov 2021 15:01:58 +0000 https://today.citadel.edu/?p=28522 Kevin BosshartKevin BosshartKevin Bosshart is a veteran day student pursuing a Mechanical Engineering degree; he earned a Bachelor of Science in Physics in 2019.]]> Kevin BosshartKevin Bosshart

In recognition of Veterans Day on Nov. 11, The Citadel is highlighting some of the college’s exceptional veteran students from different branches of the U.S. Armed Forces.

There are approximately 250 veterans currently studying at The Citadel, either as undergraduate or graduate students. They have the option of taking their classes as day students alongside the Corps of Cadets, as evening students with other non-cadet undergraduates or online. In addition, they are provided with multiple resources through the Veteran Student Success Center on campus.

Named #1 Best College for Veterans in the South for three years in a row, the Military College of South Carolina is honored to help our nation’s heroes advance their education.

Q&A with Kevin Bosshart, Class of 2019

Kevin Bosshart, USAF (Ret.), is a veteran day student pursuing his second bachelor’s degree at The Citadel. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Physics in 2019 and is currently enrolled in the Mechanical Engineering program. Bosshart plans to graduate with his second degree in 2023. After, he is hoping to find a job in Washington, his home state, to be near his family.

Q. What was your time in the military like?

A. I retired after 20 years with the rank of TSgt (E-6) from the Air Force in 2013. I will always value my time in the military. I got live in Alaska, Spain and the Carolinas (both North and South). I was able to travel to four continents, 20 something countries and to experience many different cultures.

Q. Did you come to The Citadel immediately after retiring, or do something else in between?

A. After I retired, I worked as a contractor at Boeing and Bosch. I had some health issues that forced me to leave the workforce and put me on disability. I decided then to go back to school. I was an aircraft mechanic in the military and around aircraft for quite a few years prior joining, so I was looking for a different kind of career since I couldn’t physically be a mechanic anymore.

Kevin Bosshart, USAF, sitting on an Iraqi tank

Q. How did you hear about The Citadel?

A. I looked into The Citadel because it had a good Computer Science program, and that is what I wanted to do. I started that program in 2015, but I found myself enjoying the homework from my physics class much more. After a year in Computer Science, I transferred to the Physics Department.

Q. What experiences from your military service helped shape who you are?

A. My experiences have given me new perspectives on different cultures and lifestyles. Being able to live overseas was an unforgettable experience and I would encourage anyone to do it. I spent just over four years living in Spain, unfortunately it didn’t help me in my Spanish classes very much. The Spanish locals loved practicing their English on us so we would fall into our own comfort zone and help them rather than work on our Spanish.

Kevin Bosshart and other servicemembers in Kuwait, on their way to Baghdad, in 2003

Q. What are your interactions with cadets like?

A. I really enjoy interacting with the cadets and I still have cadet friends from the first time I was here. When I first started here in 2015, it seemed like the cadets were afraid to interact with the veterans. I would be the first to the classroom and the cadets would file in and fill up all the seats furthest away from me. I talked to them after a while and asked why it seems they were so uncomfortable around veterans. A few of them said, “Because we don’t know you.” I told them that the majority of the veteran students I knew welcomed interaction and questions from cadets about their military service.

I’ve noticed since I started my second stint here at the school that the cadets seem a lot more comfortable around the veterans. I believe it stems from the growing number of veterans, both active duty and prior enlisted, at the school and having more opportunities for them to interact with us.

Q. What’s your favorite thing about The Citadel as a whole?

A. Coming from a military lifestyle, it helps to still be in a military environment. Meeting the cadets and getting to know them is very enjoyable.

Veterans interested in attending The Citadel can find information about programs and opportunities here. Additionally, information about benefits for veterans can be found here.

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“My grandfather lost his wedding ring, but never his Citadel ring”: Meet Navy veteran student Meyer Workman https://today.citadel.edu/my-grandfather-lost-his-wedding-ring-but-never-his-citadel-ring-meet-navy-veteran-student-meyer-workman/ Thu, 11 Nov 2021 19:55:43 +0000 https://today.citadel.edu/?p=28516 MeyerWorkmanMeyerWorkmanMeyer Workman is a veteran student pursuing a MBA. He earned a Business Administration degree through The Citadel in 2021.]]> MeyerWorkmanMeyerWorkman

In recognition of Veterans Day on Nov. 11, The Citadel is highlighting some of the college’s exceptional veteran students from different branches of the U.S. Armed Forces.

There are approximately 250 veterans currently studying at The Citadel, either as undergraduate or graduate students. They have the option of taking their classes as day students alongside the Corps of Cadets, as evening students with other non-cadet undergraduates or online. In addition, they are provided with multiple resources through the Veteran Student Success Center on campus.

Named #1 Best College for Veterans in the South for three years in a row, the Military College of South Carolina is honored to help our nation’s heroes advance their education.

Q&A with Meyer Workman, Class of 2021

Meyer Workman is a veteran graduate student pursuing a Master of Business Administration. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration through The Citadel in 2021. Workman is currently a program analyst for a government contractor. He plans to stay in business management, with the goal of working his way into a program manager role.

Q. How long did you serve in the Navy? What was your time like?

A. I separated after about seven and a half years in the Navy. When I separated, I held rank as a Petty Officer Second Class (E5). My time in the Navy was a mix of being tough but also very memorable. My time was filled with meeting a great group of hard-working people, long hard days and traveling to places I do not think I would have been able to see otherwise. They were probably some of the best, but also the worst, times of my life. I have traveled through most of Asia, lived in Japan and worked in the Pentagon.

Q. How did you hear about The Citadel?

A. My grandfather graduated from The Citadel. He wore his Citadel ring every day of his life. One thing my family used to always tell me is how my grandfather lost his wedding ring, but never his Citadel ring. We both served in the Navy and are now both Citadel graduates.

Q. What experiences from your military service helped make you into a better person?

A. The military has taught me a lot. I had a lack of direction, focus, drive and a multitude of other non-productive traits. Through the military you realize anything is achievable when enough effort is applied. After going through some of the toughest times, you get conditioned to work through difficult and long days when work or school requires it.

Meyer Workman, third from left

Q. Are there any advantages to being a veteran at The Citadel?

A. The biggest advantage I would say is meeting likeminded groups of people who you can relate to and share stories with. Transitioning to civilian life, turning off that military side of your brain, is difficult and different for everyone. The Citadel affords a steppingstone to work on that and collectively brings you together with people who understand.  

Q. What’s your favorite thing about The Citadel as a whole?

A. I would have to say the history and respect The Citadel carries. For each person it’s different. You have cadets, MECEPs, active-duty military, veteran day students, nursing program students, evening undergraduates, evening graduates and online students. Everybody is connected through family history, military service or a desire to be a part of something bigger than themselves. Walking the grounds after you graduate is a reminder of why you attended The Citadel in the first place and everything you went through to get where you are. It’s a culmination of many different aspects while trying to better yourself in life. 

Veterans interested in attending The Citadel can find information about programs and opportunities here. Additionally, information about benefits for veterans can be found here.

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From the Coast Guard to the Corps: Meet veteran and current cadet Luke Darling https://today.citadel.edu/from-the-coast-guard-to-the-corps-meet-veteran-and-current-cadet-luke-darling/ Tue, 09 Nov 2021 21:04:28 +0000 https://today.citadel.edu/?p=28460 "Being a veteran at The Citadel gives me the opportunity to share my experiences from my time in the military with my fellow cadets."]]>

In recognition of Veterans Day on Nov. 11, The Citadel is highlighting some of the college’s exceptional veteran students from different branches of the U.S. Armed Forces.

There are approximately 250 veterans currently studying at The Citadel, either as undergraduate or graduate students. They have the option of taking their classes as day students alongside the Corps of Cadets, as evening students with other non-cadet undergraduates or online. In addition, they are provided with multiple resources through the Veteran Student Success Center on campus.

Named #1 Best College for Veterans in the South for three years in a row, the Military College of South Carolina is honored to help our nation’s heroes advance their education.

Q&A with Cadet Luke Darling, Class of 2022

Luke Darling is a cadet veteran at The Citadel. He expects to graduate in December 2021, earning a degree in Intelligence and Security Studies with a concentration in Military Intelligence. He is currently involved with a work study through the Student Veteran Success Center while interviewing for jobs in the private sector ahead of graduation; additionally, he’s set to be married in February 2022.

Why did you enlist, and how long were you in the Coast Guard?

During my time in high school, I wanted to join the military — but I wasn’t sure which branch until I had heard about the Coast Guard, the different job opportunities and the missions they are involved in. I was not accepted into the Coast Guard Academy, but still wanted to join. I learned about how to enlist into the Coast Guard, and that’s exactly what I did after graduating from high school.

I served in the Coast Guard from August of 2014 to August of 2018, when I separated from the Coast Guard as an E-4, or Petty Officer Third Class. A week after separating, I started my education at The Citadel as a member of the Corps of Cadets.

What was your time in the military like?

It was unlike anything I had ever experienced before. Being in the military gave me a better understanding of what people who serve in the military go through each and every day. The sacrifices they make, the people they protect and the people they save — and I got to be a part of that during my time in the Coast Guard, which is something I will never forget.

What experiences from your military service helped prepare you for your education?

My experiences in the Coast Guard helped me prepare to be a student at The Citadel by teaching me the importance of seeking assistance from others when needed, knowing when to step up and take charge of a situation, and also how to organize my priorities when it came to my daily schedule.

One of my top priorities while going to college is getting good grades, earning my degree and using my degree to get a job that I can use to help support my future family.

Cadet Luke Darling with his fiancé during Parents Weekend at The Citadel

Are there any advantages to being a veteran at The Citadel?

Being a veteran at The Citadel gives me the opportunity to share my experiences from my time in the military with my fellow cadets who aspire to join the military after they graduate. As a member of the Corps of Cadets, I get to interact with the cadets each and every day, in the classroom, in battalion and outside of campus in numerous activities such as football games, band events and even sporting activities like hockey games.

What’s your favorite thing about The Citadel as a whole?

My favorite thing about being at The Citadel is the unique student body. While it is a military college, it also allows veteran students like myself the opportunity to attend such a distinguished school, where I can get a great education and use my degree to get a job like the one I am currently pursuing.

Also, day in and day out, I get to learn about why cadets want to join the military. I also get to learn more about the other veteran students, their experiences, what life was like for them in the military and what they want to do when they graduate.

Veterans interested in attending The Citadel can find information about programs and opportunities here. Additionally, information about benefits for veterans can be found here.

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Surviving and overcoming a historic missile attack: Meet Army veteran student Ashlyn Howard https://today.citadel.edu/surviving-and-overcoming-a-historic-missile-attack-meet-army-veteran-student-ashlyn-howard/ Mon, 08 Nov 2021 17:20:03 +0000 https://today.citadel.edu/?p=28377 Veteran student Ashlyn HowarVeteran student Ashlyn Howar"The ballistic missile attack on January 8, 2020 happened to my base. So I actually saw about half of the missiles flying."]]> Veteran student Ashlyn HowarVeteran student Ashlyn Howar

In recognition of Veterans Day on Nov. 11, The Citadel is highlighting some of the college’s exceptional veteran students from different branches of the U.S. Armed Forces.

There are approximately 250 veterans currently studying at The Citadel, either as undergraduate or graduate students. They have the option of taking their classes as day students alongside the Corps of Cadets, as evening students with other non-cadet undergraduates or online. In addition, they are provided with multiple resources through the Veteran Student Success Center on campus.

Named #1 Best College for Veterans in the South for three years in a row, the Military College of South Carolina is honored to help our nation’s heroes advance their education.

Q&A with Ashlyn Howard, Class of 2024

Ashlyn Howard, USAR, is a veteran day student at The Citadel. She is pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, Marketing and Business Development, with a minor in English. After graduation, Howard plans to become a JAG lawyer, working in military law. After retiring from the military, she plans to move into business law.

Q. How long did you serve in the military? What was your time on active duty like?

A. I’m currently still in the military. I’m in the Army Reserves, and I’m a sergeant. I left for deployment in October 2019 and got back at the end of August 2020. The 180 days of active duty status allowed me to be eligible for the veteran program.

During my time overseas, my job was accounting for all personnel on Al Asad Airbase in Iraq. So I was keeping track of roughly 4,000 people on a daily basis for nine and a half months. It was a lot of pressure, but it was interesting.

One other thing — the ballistic missile attack on January 8, 2020 happened to my base. So I actually saw about half of the missiles flying. Our whole airfield got blown up. We had historians come afterwards, which was interesting, because technically everybody on that base made history.

Q. What was it like to experience something like that?

A. Every time a missile would hit, even though it was about 500 yards away, dust would come in to our bunker, because the missile was so fast. We had missiles that hit all the way on the other side of the base and I would still feel the blowout and the dust come into my own bunker just because it was so massive. It was insane.

The scariest thing with them is that we’d hear ‘incoming,’ but the missiles wouldn’t hit for two to four minutes. So you’re just sitting there waiting, plugging your ears because you don’t know what’s happening.

Handling that at 19 years old was crazy. But I was more scared before it started than while it was happening — it was just a whirlwind.

Ashlyn Howard and family after she returned from deployment on August 20, 2020

Q. How did you hear about the veteran program at The Citadel?

A. I found out about the program while I was living in Columbia, South Carolina, going to online school and working as a waitress. I had a National Guard lieutenant come in, and I noticed he had a Citadel ring. I asked him if he had been a cadet, and he said no. He told me how he had 180 days of active duty orders, which allowed him to attend The Citadel as a veteran. His only caveats were that he couldn’t live on campus and couldn’t go to the mess hall, but he would go to class, go home to his wife after, and he was able to graduate with a Citadel degree and a ring.

Q. What experiences from your military service have prepared you to be a better person?

A. Now I have a lot more focus, especially because I learned so many life lessons and how to grow really, really quickly. I’m able to focus more on my studies and to see things as stepping stones on the way to my end goal. So I do my work and grind. I throw myself into it now — before I would get hung up on little, annoying things.

Q. What are your interactions with the cadets like?

A. An advantage of being here is being able to to give the cadets some advice or even share my experiences with them. It’s also cool whenever they realize I’m practically their age — most of the other veterans don’t have that advantage — but I’m only one or two years older than them. I like being able to share the steps I took to get here, in hopes that maybe they can learn something from it and use it for their own advantage, whether or not they’re going to join the military.

Also, there’s a cadet that I kind of mentee in one of my classes, because it’s me and her and the rest of our classmates are guys. So I just wanted to take her under my wing and give her someone to talk to.

Q. What’s your favorite thing about The Citadel as a whole?

A. I really like the classes. I went to a bigger university before, where I was sitting in lectures with 150 students. They didn’t take attendance and didn’t really care if you showed up for your tests. This is so intimate. My biggest class here had fewer than 30 students. So I always recognize the same faces. You are able to get more hands-on learning that way and get to know your professors, and I really enjoy that. Also, on a different note, I just love the layout of the campus.

Veterans interested in attending The Citadel can find information about programs and opportunities here. Additionally, information about benefits for veterans can be found here.

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“Shut up and push forward”: Meet Marine Corps veteran student Dimitri Fragopoulos https://today.citadel.edu/shut-up-and-push-forward-meet-marine-corps-veteran-student-dimitri-fragopoulos/ Thu, 04 Nov 2021 17:56:37 +0000 https://today.citadel.edu/?p=28318 Veteran student Dimitri Fragopoulos expects to graduate in May 2022 with a degree in Intelligence and Security Studies. ]]>

In recognition of Veterans Day on Nov. 11, The Citadel is highlighting some of the college’s exceptional veteran students from different branches of the U.S. Armed Forces.

There are approximately 250 veterans currently studying at The Citadel, either as undergraduate or graduate students. They have the option of taking their classes as day students alongside the Corps of Cadets, as evening students with other non-cadet undergraduates or online. In addition, they are provided with multiple resources through the Veteran Student Success Center on campus.

Named #1 Best College for Veterans in the South for three years in a row, the Military College of South Carolina is honored to help our nation’s heroes advance their education.

Q&A with Dimitri Fragopoulos, Class of 2022

Dimitri Fragopoulos is a veteran day student at The Citadel. He also volunteers in a local Fire/EMS department, and expects to graduate in May 2022 with a degree in Intelligence and Security Studies. After graduation, Fragopoulos will either begin work in the private sector or spend a season working on a wildland firefighting crew.

Q. How long did you serve in the military, and what was that experience like?

A. I served in the Marine Corps infantry for just under three years, until I was injured on deployment. The life of a grunt has its ups and downs, but overall, it is a period of my life that truly shaped me into the man I am today, teaching me invaluable life lessons. I was able to travel the world, interact with various cultures, and experience their customs and traditions.

The men I served with will always be considered family and have helped me through the most trying times of my life. Though my time in service was cut short to a catastrophic orthopedic injury sustained on deployment, I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Dimitri Fragopoulos, with fellow Marines, in Jordan

Q. Did you come to The Citadel immediately after leaving the Marines, or do something else in between?

A. I got out of the Corps in May of 2017. In August 2017, I was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia after a routine appointment for my second, of what would become 13, surgeries to correct the injuries I sustained in service. I spent the next 18 months going through chemotherapy, in and out of the hospital, before receiving a bone marrow transplant. I then did two semesters at Trident Tech before attending The Citadel, which helps me stay local to my oncologist and my amazing orthopedic surgical team at MUSC.

Q. How did you hear about The Citadel?

A. I moved to Charleston in 2007, so its local knowledge. While on active duty, I also had the pleasure of serving under the command of several Citadel graduates.

Q. What experiences from your military service have prepared you to be a better person?

A. There are two lesson I learned from my time in service that I hold close to my heart.

  1. Embrace the suck.
  2. Nobody cares. Shut up and push forward to accomplish the mission at hand.

These two lessons I credit for being alive today pushing through an incredibly poor cancer prognosis, a bone marrow transplant, 13 orthopedic surgeries and now making it to senior year with a 3.6 GPA.  

Q. Are there any advantages to being a veteran at The Citadel?

A. The one advantage, to me, is being able to use my life lessons and experiences from my time in service to give back to the institution by sharing it with young and upcoming military officers.

Veterans interested in attending The Citadel can find information about programs and opportunities here. Additionally, information about benefits for veterans can be found here.

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The Citadel and service members: united by a flag https://today.citadel.edu/the-citadel-and-service-members-united-by-a-flag/ Thu, 01 Jul 2021 19:47:50 +0000 https://today.citadel.edu/?p=25132 There are two new flags in the Veteran Student Success Center that highlight the college’s strong support and connection with the military.]]>

There are two new flags in The Citadel’s Veteran Student Success Center that highlight the college’s strong support and connection with the military.

It started with a simple overseas request in late 2020.

U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Joshua Powell was based in Old Camp Vance in Afghanistan when he realized that he wasn’t the only person with a Citadel connection.

Powell, a student in The Citadel’s College Transfer Program, enrolled in 2019 after completing three deployments. He studied criminal justice for a year before taking a break to go on his fourth deployment.

While stationed at Old Camp Vance, Powell met six Citadel alumni, as well as many supporters of the college. With the strong Citadel presence in mind, he reached out to Sally Levitt, assistant director for veteran services, to ask for a Citadel flag for the service members to sign and return.

In addition to a Citadel flag, Levitt and other members of the campus community sent care packages to the troops. Then, a few months later, the signed flag returned, accompanied by an American flag that had flown over Old Camp Vance.

“I always want to encourage people that help me and show them support as much as I can,” said Powell.

Both flags are now proudly displayed in the lounge area of the Veteran Student Success Center.

“Being able to provide services, both on campus and abroad, for military connected students is an truly an honor,” said Levitt. “I could not be more proud of our veteran and active duty students. Through their challenges and sacrifices, they epitomize what it means to be a principled leader.”

Powell has completed his fourth deployment and returned to South Carolina. He will resume his studies at The Citadel in the fall.

“I’ve always regretting not going to The Citadel directly after high school – I went in a different direction and joined the Army,” said Powell. “But I’m trying to circle back now and graduate from The Citadel.”

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A veteran, student, alumnus and coordinator — meet Jesse Brooks https://today.citadel.edu/a-veteran-student-alumnus-and-coordinator-meet-jesse-brooks/ https://today.citadel.edu/a-veteran-student-alumnus-and-coordinator-meet-jesse-brooks/#comments Mon, 09 Nov 2020 20:30:02 +0000 https://today.citadel.edu/?p=20087 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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