Updated: 13 APR 12
The advertising blitz for the VSO end-of-semester activities has officially begun!!! As Sharon Robino-West expressed in a recent email: "Go big or go home". This sort of ethos is precisely what I have tapped into as a student leader. Perhaps I took my education benefits for granted as an undergraduate. Since I entered the graduate realm (and gone sufficiently in debt due to an exhaustion of my education benefits), I realized that I am now legitimately paying into the University. Whereas before the government was paying me to go to school, the roles are reversed and I was simply not content with merely receiving an education.
I wanted to do education. I wanted to apply my knowledge and maximize my tuition dollars while I can still afford to mess up. There is such a plethora of opportunitites to pursue as a student leader, it breaks my heart to see students struggling to find time to fit in work, school, health & wellness, and we cannot forget the time it takes listing excuses - who has time for it all?!
That is why I encourage students to get in where they fit in. As the VSO continues on its path of excellence, do not be afraid to approach your peers and superiors and speak your mind. If we treat each and every interaction here on campus as a learning experience, as a practice environment for the civilian job-market, we suddenly become limited by our own inhibitions. As veterans, many of you can appreciate the fact that there is simply not enough time in the day...and yet, somehow, we found time as service members. If the time cannot be found, make the time. Prioritize your goals and develop your strengths, your talents, and your spirit.
A quote from the band VAST: "You can live as long as you want to live"
If you haven't joined us for our meetings, then come out and support us at Debate the Debate, the Perception vs. Reality panel discussion, or our end-of-the-semester camping trip. The only thing I can guarantee is a group of veterans who are committed to staking their claim in this crazy, messed-up world. Who knows? You might even enjoy yourself ;)
Updated: 07 MAR 12
The Ides of March is almost upon us and the VSO is excited to welcome its newest executive officers! What can I say that has not been said before? Plenty, I am sure. For the time being, let me simply say that my involvement with the Veteran Student Organization has pushed my abilities into realms I once thought unimaginable.
It's so easy to criticize when you are not doing anything. That is precisely why I joined the military in the first place: If I was so offended by war and militarism, I had to insert myself into the thick of it if I ever wanted to understand and discuss the issues that are so close to my heart, the issues that have propelled me through my education, the issues that will land me a career in this crazy post-modern world we live in.
With all that said, I challenge each and every person that reads this (and those who do not read this) to stand up, talk to those around you, and push your comfort-boundaries to its fullest extent. I always ask myself if politicians thoroughly enjoy fundraisers and campaign trails...Do they do it for the fame or do they sacrifice because they whole heartedly believe that their ideas and their tenacity will make things better. Either way, I admire anyone who can do those things that I despise; furthermore, I admire those individuals who do these sorts of things well. After my time as a student leader, I have done my fair share of likable and un-likeable activities and endeavors. At the end of the day, I am a better person because of these things.
See ya 'round campus!!!
Updated: 02 FEB 12
While I would thoroughly enjoy spending my time exploring the popular culture surrounding 2012 and the various predictions that abound, this sort of venture is precisely what I cannot afford to do: I got a theis to write, man! I am in the throes of developing my Master's Thesis that explores community effects on Army recruiting. On top of that, I have been pursuing multiple ventures through my stint as Parking Advisory Student Representative - most notably tracking UNO shuttle-busses and making these busses more energy-efficient. Furthermore, I am preparing to present my paper titled "Military as a Religion: A Theoretical Perspective using the Writings of Emile Durkheim" to a senior sociology thesis course, all while serving as a graduate consultant for the Alpha Kappa Delta Sociological Honor Society and working as a Teaching Assistant in the Sociology Dept under Professor Oyinlade.
The plate is kind of full. For what it is worth though, based off my preliminary research into the 2012-end-of-the-world-scenarios, humankind is no more at risk than we have been in recent memory. Yet, despite the fear or security we may feel, it never hurts to arm oneself with knowledge, some good buddies, and a piece of mind. I've found mine in sociology - where is your's located?
Updated: 02 JAN 12
As 2012 begins to unfold, there are a number of uncertainties thrown our way: the Presidential race, U.S. involvement in and around the Persian Gulf, economic woes here at home, and the all-too-lovely reminder of them Mayans and their apocalyptic predictions. For the sake of my sanity (and hopefully some of ya'lls out there), I would like to document many of the popular predictions and support them with the scientific evidence that disclaims them, following it all up with further "proof" of one theory over the other.
On a more grounded-level, there are local issues that the VSO as a whole is dedicated to address, namely the Veteran Parking Proposal.
Updated: 14 OCT 11
Thus far, the VSO has made great strides in its efforts to bring together the veteran student community: This began by documenting our UNO forefathers, the Pen and Sword, and learning a great deal from one of the organization's former presidents, Matt Tilford. There is still plenty of information out there to collect and learn from but, for now, I believe that we are beginning to understand why the Pen and Sword was such a huge success.
Created when UNO was still Omaha University, members of the original Pen and Sword were intermingled with a different group of students: Individual student loans did not become popular until the the creation of the Higher Education Act (HEA) of 1965. This new legislation was in response to, among other things, early-1960's census data that revealed a growing disparity in American colleges: “Students from high-income families were five times more likely to attend college than students from lower income families” (Fitzgerald & Delaney, 2002:22). In other words, war veterans of the early Pen and Sword were attending college classrooms that are markedly different from today's classrooms.
How many UNO college students do you know that is paying for/paid for tuition using only private funds and/or scholarships? Until I can obtain verifiable data, I am left with my own answer, which is not many students. So, in 1957, when the Pen and Sword became a student organization on campus, they were surrounded by either super-smart people (scholarship) or super-rich (paying tuition out of pocket). The point is that UNO veterans of the 1950s and 1960s felt that their needs were not being met by the larger student population. To solve that problem, they created their own organization.
While this all may seem a gross over-simplification of the issue, it is my interpretation of the situation...dictated by research, analysis, and synthesis. Of course, after speaking with other members of Pen and Sword, the I, along with the Greater Veteran Student Organization, will be able to further clarify our history in the hopes of accurately documenting our legacy as UNO veteran students.
Times are a little different now but the need for cohesion and community remains. We hope to keep the good vibes going and the information flowing. Should we be occupying Wall Street or protesting the war? Should we respond to the longest U.S. in history? Does anybody really care?
With my sociological background, I am beginning more and more to view the veteran community as a class within American society. As a class, whether you like it or not, you are involved in a number of ways. Be it mind, body, or spirit, we have all experienced a level of sacrifice not known to over 90 percent of the U.S. population. As future leaders and current students, it is our responsibility to think about the issues that are out there and prepare ourselves for tomorrow today.
Updated: 10 SEP 11
An organization for veterans of the U.S. military is nothing new. More specifically, a veteran group on the UNO campus has already existed: The Pen and Sword Society pre-dates our current venture by many years. Composed of Veterans from both World Wars, the Korean and Vietnam War, it is my duty to learn about our long-standing UNO/veteran forefathers and the imapact that they had on campus and community affiars. The veteran students of yesterday are the men and women who run things today. What things? I hope to speak with members of the Pen and Sword Society: Where did their careers take them? How did their veteran status affect their job prospects? Why be a member of a student organzation? I hope to uncover these facets over the course of my presidency!
While it is important to reflect on our history, it is equally important to focus on the future. As a brand new organization, the VSO is limited in a number of ways. However, with the help of fellow veterans, the veterans of UNO can gain access to more education-related resources. I am pleased to announce that the VSO of UNO is now a recognized Chapter of the Student Veterans of America (SVA):
SVA is a coalition of student veteran groups on college and university campuses across the country and is the only unified voice for veterans actively trying to earn their college degrees today.
(Taken from 2011 SVA Brochure. Click HERE for full brocure)
The SVA is just one of many organizations that have been formed throughout the last century to address veteran problems. These problems have ranged from unjust compensation practices on behalf of the Federal Government to the fair and equal distribution of the Montgomery G.I. Bill. Judging by the post-service education benefits of the 21st century, I would say that veteran organizations have been wildly successful and I am proud to count the VSO as a new voice in the conversation. So what is there to talk about?
The voices that I have heard on campus vary: some indicate that more could be done for the veterans on the UNO campus; others want nothing more than to be regarded as just another college student. And then there are those who care nothing for bureaucracy or politics - they just want to kick it with some like-minded intellectual types who have experienced similar experiences.
Whatever your position, whatever your rank, however you want to interact, the VSO wants to hear from all voices!