Augustana was recently included on the 2014 list of Military Friendly Schools. The award is presented to a small percentage of educational institutions that exhibit signs of support for veterans and military service members.
Victory Media, a veteran-owned business based out of Coraopolis, Pennsylvania, conducts a yearly survey to determine which schools offer the most support for their military-involved students. The survey asks numerous questions on issues such as accreditation, transfer credit policies and the ease of transition from military service to higher education.
The list is a resource for students making that transition, who are seeking a school that will offer them the right amount of support for their needs.
“Augustana has high standards . . . we have made the decision to be supportive beyond what they’re getting from the military,” vice president for enrollment Nancy Davidson said. “Our director of admission, Adam Heinitz, and our financial aid staff go above and beyond to help out with that transition.”
Augustana participates in the Yellow Ribbon Program, which provides veterans or their dependents with scholarship money.
“We assist students in certifying their enrollment with the VA,” associate director of financial aid, Emily Studenski said. “I spend a lot of time working with the one or two students each year who have issues with the VA, figuring out the problems and figuring out how we can solve them.”
In addition to working with veterans, Augustana supports a cross-town Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) program, run by South Dakota State University in Brookings. Students from Augustana are able to travel to SDSU to participate in their program and earn general education credits from the ROTC classes they take.
Augustana senior, Blake Woockman, wing commander for the Air Force program, has been a member of ROTC since his freshman year.
“I always knew I wanted to serve in the military, but didn’t know where or how to start,” said Woockman, “Education was also very important to me . . . since Augie was my dream school, it was an easy choice. I applied and was awarded an ROTC scholarship to study Chemistry.”
ROTC students spend a large amount of time at SDSU. Augustana provides the students with a gas stipend to help alleviate some of the travel costs.
Professors at Augustana also help make the experience for students involved with ROTC as smooth as possible. “Being in ROTC requires a lot of extra time and effort and my professors have realized that and do their best to help me succeed,” said Woockman.
Woockman reiterated the benefits of Augustana’s support system.
“For me, it was the fact that Augustana would provide me with an outstanding education while allowing me to train to become a leader in the U.S. Air Force,” he said.
“Just give it a try. If the military’s not for you, you’ll at least walk away with some of the best leadership training in the world and become a more productive member of society because of it.”