By Sophia Harris
What is your role here at FSU and what does your job entail?
I’m the new coordinator of veterans and military services here at Framingham State University. So my main job would be to help veterans and military-connected students navigate the confusing paperwork – the ins and outs of what the University needs as far as paperwork and then also what the Veteran Affairs Department needs for paperwork so that they’re able to use and receive their benefits.
What is your educational and professional background?
I’m a Framingham State alumnus. I graduated in May of 2017. I have a bachelor’s degree in Inance. Prior to that, I was in the Air Force as an in-Pight refueler. I was on active duty as well. I served for four years. I was stationed at McGuire Air Force Base in New Jersey. I Pew on a KC-10, which is a tanker cargo airlift aircraft. I did four deployments and did a lot of traveling missions into Afghanistan, Iraq, and all over the Middle East and Europe. When I got out, I decided to move back home. I chose Framingham State because they had a Veteran Services Office. They had a coordinator at the time. I remember when I was getting out [of the Air Force] I really had no idea what I was doing, how to get my benefits, what was needed, and the transition was a little hectic. So I remember talking to the coordinator at the time, and it was very helpful to have somebody to reach out to and to kind of help guide you. That’s definitely one of the reasons why I applied for this position. And then when I graduated, I was actually interning with the Business Office here at Framingham State, I got an Accountant I position, and I think about a year, year and a half, after that an Accountant II position opened up.
How did your time in the Air Force prepare you for this job?
It helped me to relate a little bit more to the veteran and military students here at FSU. I was on active duty. I had a wife. I had one child at the time – I have three now. So I know the stresses of deploying, not being home, being in charge of cargo operations, and refueling our nation’s greatest assets. I refueled the fighter jets, cargo jets – I did a lot of crazy things like crazy missions over Africa and other places. It was difficult to go from being in such a position where you’re in charge of so much. ... To answer your question ... just being able to relate more to these students and these other veterans. ... How do we get across what we’ve [veterans] done and communicate that better to jobs as far as resumes and cover letters?
What do you hope to accomplish at FSU? What are your goals?
I’m just hoping to help as many veterans and military-connected students as possible in whatever way that might come across. I’ve gotten some emails about food insecurity. I’ve gotten some emails about confusion when it comes to “What benefits am I able to get?” “How do I do it?” “Who do I contact?” “I want to work on my resume – is there anybody on campus who can help?” [I point] them in the right direction, like the career services office. Overall, that’s my goal – to just help as many of them as possible – even if it’s as simple as registering for courses, helping to connect them to their academic advisors. ... My main goal is to get as many of them graduated and ready for that next step, whatever they’re pursuing.
Do you have any hobbies that you would like to tell the community about?
I used to have a lot of hobbies. I have three little kids, girls, so most of my time is spent with them. So doing whatever they do. Whenever I can get away, which is pretty rare, especially [with a] full-time job, three kids, family and the MBA program. I like to play golf. I love sports – Red Sox, Celtics, and Patriots.
What advice do you have for campus students?
I would have to say I hope that when they think of a veteran, they think of somebody who’s served our country. But also they are just another person, like, they’re coming back to FSU, or school to pursue their higher education. ... So if you want to come in [to the center] and meet some of our veterans and [hear] some of the stories they have. [It] is just amazing. Some of the stuff that they’ve done is crazy. If you’re a campus student, and you’d like to talk to some veterans or get to know us better, we have a veteran center [in] Dwight Hall 113. It’s open to anybody 9 a.m to 5 p.m. ... Anybody is more than welcome to stop by. We’re just people like you and we’re just trying to get that degree and that next step and start a new career.