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Student veteran transitions to life in college at UNC

Allen Hughes is a first-year veteran who has served in Germany, Japan, Poland and Israel. He majors in linguistics.

Allen Hughes is a first-year veteran who has served in Germany, Japan, Poland and Israel. He majors in linguistics.

Currently a veteran and linguistics major, he served eight years in the army as a sergeant and operations manger. He was stationed mostly in Germany and Japan, but also spent time in Israel and Poland.

Hughes said the adjustment from military life to college life was dramatic, but because of university assistance, his transition has been smooth.

“Doing the Boot Print to Heel Print (Student Veteran Orientation) program was really good because it kind of oriented us to campus and showed us what programs were available for us and our families so it was a lot easier to transition because of that,” he said.

Amber Mathwig, student veteran assistance coordinator, said there are at least 450 veterans between undergraduate and graduate programs at the University.

“Something that we do in the military is when we move from one duty station to another, is to have a sponsor or like a battle buddy that kind of shows us the ropes and things like that,” she said.

“We are trying to not necessarily recreate that, but to give people kind of a bridge between this huge support system that they receive in the military and sometimes a less supportive structure that the University has and providing information to them.”

Ni-Eric Perkins, senior assistant director for enrollment in the Office of Undergraduate Admissions, counsels prospective veteran applicants about their options.

“These options include full-time admissions via the transfer application, part-time class room studies, which limits enrollees to eight hours a semester and the newly created UNC Core Program, which allows for active duty service members and veterans who are otherwise unable to get to campus to be able to enroll in a distance-education certificate program,” Perkins said.

After doing research on other universities, Hughes said he chose UNC because of its prestige and academic environment that motivates and encourages him each day.

Hughes said the military provided him with important resources and skills to be successful in college.

“The military offers a lot of great programs, and not everybody in the military utilizes them, so me, who is kind of like a go-getter, I went out of my way to utilize the military’s resources to basically head toward college education,” he said.

Hughes said his main goal is to go to law school, but he is also interested in running for political office.

“My first goal is to run for the North Carolina House of Representatives, and that’s kind of why I came to the University of North Carolina,” he said. “My wife is getting her Ph.D. here and so I am here for a while. I kind of want to invest in this state and invest in the local politics here.”

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