MC’s Military Student Center Opens its Doors to the Public

MC’s Military Student Center Opens its Doors to the Public

Nov. 9, 2015

Maryville College will celebrate Veterans Day with a reception and open house at its Military Student Center at noon on Nov. 14, 2015. The event is free and open to the public.

Additionally, veterans and their families are invited to enjoy free admission to the Fighting Scots Football Game against Greensboro College starting that day at 1:30 p.m. on Maryville College’s Honaker Field.

With a burgeoning population of student veterans and their dependents, Maryville College has put into place several initiatives to assist these students in achieving their goals. The new Military Student Center serves as an active and welcoming hub for military students, including veterans, dependents, retirees, National Guardsmen, reservists and active duty service members.

“Maryville College is a great blend of what our veterans and military students need to succeed,” said Lt. Col. Ted Higgs, an Army retiree and the center’s director. He added that military students represent a “marvelous pool of talent and expertise” whose “presence on campus and in class adds significantly to the academic community as a whole.”

Dr. Barbara Wells, vice president and dean of Maryville College, seconded Higgs’ sentiment.

“The Military Student Center demonstrates to our traditional-age students that Maryville College is a place where diverse populations can find an academic home. Our veterans bring a level of enthusiasm and discipline to their studies that enriches the classroom experience for all,” she said.

According to Vandy Kemp, vice president and dean of students, expanding veterans’ programs at Maryville College “just made sense.”

“We’re a good fit for military veterans, who are attracted to our mission, curriculum and campus community,” she said. “With the Yellow Ribbon Program, we are an affordable option. Beyond that, thousands of veterans are returning to civilian life, and Maryville College has always sought to serve population groups that are eager for a quality educational experience.”

Higgs pointed out that the College’s Student Veterans Association is growing in numbers and increasingly active on campus.

One event they helped organize which was met with particular success this year was the “Creating College Success for Veterans” conference. In addition to presentations by student veterans and administrators from regional institutions, the conference featured documentarian Ed Hooper as a special guest along with an advance screening of his film “Medal of Honor: The History.”

Sean Hagstrom ’16, a United States Marine Corps veteran and an exercise science major, helped found the Student Veterans Association. Having served in Operation Iraqi Freedom and having worked as a combat instructor at Camp Geiger, near Jacksonville, N.C., Hagstrom sought out Maryville College because he wanted a rigorous educational experience and an opportunity to participate in campus life.

“For my entire military career I’ve always had a battle buddy or somebody I was really close with,” he said. “I think is important to find that group camaraderie in the civilian world, whether it be your co-workers or a team. I’ve found that through cross country.”

Hagstrom is considering going into physical therapy after graduating and is keeping an eye on governmental employers who would count his years of military service towards his retirement benefits.

Veterans who graduate from Maryville College are uniquely prepared for entry into the work force thanks to Maryville College Works, a program designed to bridge college and career. The combination of welcoming veterans into the campus community, providing a well-rounded education, and ensuring job prospects has garnered state-wide attention.

This year the College was one of 11 colleges and universities in Tennessee selected to receive the Veteran Reconnect Grant, a competitive grant focused on improving the success of student veterans pursuing higher education.

Maryville College will receive $82,257 in funding announced by Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam Aug. 10, 2015. Only two other private institutions – Belmont University and Lipscomb University – were awarded the grant.

“As a result of the state grant, we have made some good strides since we began putting the center together in the summer,” Higgs said. “We have also been working very closely with Christy McDonald, director of the Career Center, and are beginning to explore various partnering options with post-graduate federal programs as well as corporate internship options.”

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By Gerhard Schneibel, News and New Media Writer

Maryville College is ideally situated in Maryville, Tenn., between the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Knoxville, the state's third largest city. Founded in 1819, it is the 12th oldest institution of higher learning in the South and maintains an affiliation with the Presbyterian Church (USA). Known for offering its students a rigorous and highly personal experience that includes an undergraduate research requirement, Maryville College is a nationally ranked institution of higher learning that successfully joins the liberal arts and professional preparation. Total enrollment for the Fall 2018 semester is 1,154.