adult learner, Military, Navy, Parents, Undergraduate, Veteran

Going Back to School as a Veteran

Kevin Matzke headshot

Kevin Matzke, Bachelor of Science, Biology

San Diego Region

U.S. Navy Veteran

https://portfolium.com/Kmatzke88

The decision to go back to school as a veteran was not a difficult decision. The military always pushed education and the need to better oneself. Knowing the large veteran population attending National University helped in making my mind up to attend. The challenges that came with working full time, studying full-time, and maintaining a family were not what I expected. When I first started at National University, I was married but had no children. The transition into becoming a student was fairly streamlined, and because of the way the military uses intensive training, the 1 month compressed format of National Universities classes seemed natural to me. As a veteran it is sometimes hard to find common ground with people who haven’t had the shared experience of military service. I have often found myself feeling alienated or uncomfortable because my time in the military had changed my way of viewing things. This sense of alienation was one of my biggest fears going into starting up as a college student. I quickly found that a large portion of my classmates were also prior service, or active duty, and shared the same struggles as I did. The veteran community at National definitely helped in smoothing the transition from being fresh out of the military, to being a successful student, while supporting my family.

As I progressed in my education I also was growing my family.  My first daughter was born in 2016, and my second in 2018.

The addition of children definitely adds new stressors and time demands on top of the already busy work/ school schedule I was maintaining. There are days where it can be overwhelming, and on those days I remind myself that completing my education will help to provide a better future for my children. It has not always been easy, but the faculty has been very accommodating and understanding of the fact that many of us attending are parents, working to support our families while attending school. The smaller class sizes allow me more interaction with the instructors, and a makes learning and understanding the material easier, when everything outside of class is trying to distract me from my studies.

English learner, First generation, Graduate Student

First Generation Student Success

Claudia Garcia

Inaugural Cohort, Master of Family Therapy, San Diego Region

For many students, the path to college is paved by the example of their parents or grandparents. For first generation college graduates, like me, college is a path that must be created as you go. As a teenager, I had the goal to become a college graduate and often wondered if it was just a dream. My great-grandmother did not know how to read, write or count and my grandmother only attended the first grade. As I graduated high school, I did not know what tuition was and I remember searching the meaning of FAFSA.  My parents supported me through my journey but also struggled to navigate a system that was new to them. While I faced the challenges of being a first-generation college student, my family supported me and learned with me. I soon realized that in obtaining a college education I was not only accomplishing my goal but the dream of the generations before me. At the same time, I was paving the way for the generations that will come after me. Today, I am a college graduate and so is my younger sister. Looking back, the courage and determination instilled in me are what inspired me to meet my goals. These qualities enabled me to turn my goals into reality and become the first person in my family to obtain a college education.

In the present, I wish my younger self knew there are people who want to help. Besides family, there are advisors, mentors, students and professors who provide valuable support. It is astonishing how many people are interested in the success of others and all you must do is ask for the help. I wish other first-generation students were aware of the amount of support the college community provides. I must acknowledge, that my experience in college was possible because of the people that explained what FAFSA was and defined tuition to my parents when I needed to enroll. Through my time in college I learned to accept the fear of the unknown. While seeing others be confident in living the college experience I struggled to understand if I was doing things correctly. I failed to understand that they had parents and possibly many generations before them who had done this before. As first-generation college students, we must acknowledge that it is acceptable to be afraid because we are doing something new and something that is unfamiliar to us. While at times it may feel like you do not belong in college, you must remind yourself of what got you there.

The most important thing to remember is that college may be hard, but it is worth it. Having a goal and vision for where you are going in makes it a bit easier. Learning to be a college student while you are a college student can be challenging itself and having a specific goal reminds you of where you are going.  Lastly, as a student, I have learned of the importance to give yourself permission to ask for help and create your own path. It is acceptable to need help navigating college even for people who are not first-generation students. You are not the only person doing this for the first time and you are creating your unique path to a college education.

Graduate Student, Study Abroad

Why should you study abroad?

Jordan Montejano headshot

Jordan Montejano

https://portfolium.com/JordanMontejano

Creative Writing MFA

In 2018, I went on a study abroad trip to Tijuana, Mexico. Here is what I gained from the experience and why I recommend study abroad programs.

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Why Should You Consider Study Abroad?

Study abroad allows for you to bond with your fellow students, learn about history, practice a new language, and experience the richness of a culture through firsthand experience. It’s also a lot of fun.

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Cultural Interaction and Learning

The 2018 National University Scholars Program study abroad trip to Tijuana, Mexico allowed me to learn about the people, history, language and culture of the area. I was able to admire the beauty of the natural landscape and the handmade crafts. At the Cultural Center, I viewed an extensive collection of artifacts and read up on centuries of history. I engaged in conversation with locals and enjoyed cuisine in areas of cultural interest such as Mercado Hidalgo, a large market with fresh produce and crafts, and La Calle Revolucion, a bustling street packed with various stores, restaurants, and iconic places like Caesars. Through my research, I discovered that many of the popular tourist locations in Tijuana today were first made famous during Prohibition, when there was a huge influx of people crossing the border from the US.

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A Group that Studies Together

What I enjoyed most about Study Abroad was bonding with my fellow Scholars through a shared and collaborative experience. The trip helped to bolster a sense of comradery and allowed for us to see things from different perspectives, so we could reflect and gain a better understanding of what we learned and how to apply it.

Military, Navy, nursing, Parents, self care

Meet Pam: Veteran, Nurse, Parent, Student, Scholar!

Pam Schreurs White Coat Ceremony
Pam at her White Coat Ceremony, four months after writing this blog post – Congratulations Pam!

Pamela Schreurs

Bachelor of Science, Nursing

https://portfolium.com/PamelaSchreurs

https://www.instagram.com/pamela_schreurs_nuscholar/

Greetings! My name is Pamela and I am a mother to two wonderful children, as well as a nursing student at National University.  I am also a US Navy veteran, and my husband is currently active duty.  It can be a struggle being a full-time mom and nursing student (especially if a spouse is deployed!), but I have felt very supported since starting my journey at NU.  In my downtime I enjoy spending time with my kids, volunteering with Girl Scouts San Diego, and taking time for myself.  One big take away from nursing school has been that self-care helps make you a more present nurse and parent.  I feel blessed to have had fabulous instructors who incorporate integrative therapy into the classroom, and I am excited to weave meditation, aromatherapy, and guided breathing into not only my nursing practice, but also my home life.

In July of 2018, I was accepted into the NU Scholars Program.  Through NU Scholars, I have been able to support peers’ community service projects, and am planning my own project hosting wellness workshops for elementary-aged girls.  I will also be hosting SafeZones LGBTQ literacy training for NU staff, faculty, and students to help promote a safe and welcoming environment for all who attend NU.

The NU Scholars Program has a strong emphasis on goal-setting, and I have learned a lot about how to set and structure concrete short- and long-term goals. My short-term educational goal for this year is to fully commit myself to the last two weeks of my psychosocial nursing rotation.  This is perhaps the most important rotation in terms of therapeutic communication and empathy, and I want to absorb everything I can before beginning my next rotation.  My long-term goal is to graduate with an excellent GPA in July – nursing school is tough, but I pride myself on putting in the work I need to maintain my GPA.  I cannot wait to have my kids help me put on my white coat in a few months, it is going to be one of the best feelings in the world!  After achieving this first long-term goal, my next long-term goal is to continue my education at a master’s level, focusing on pediatric mental health.

adult learner, Graduate Student, Military, Navy, Parents, Study Abroad

Studying Abroad as a Parent

Brent Harris headshot

Brent Harris

https://portfolium.com/baharris123

Creative Writing MFA

29 Palms Region

“Freeeedddooooommm!”

Shout that in your best Braveheart voice, for that’s the euphoria I felt as I stepped onto the curb, kissed the wife and kids goodbye, and sauntered into the Palm Springs departure terminal.

In January, my Navy wife went away on deployment – for seven months – leaving me at home with two kids, a Master’s program, community volunteer projects, and a perpetually empty cup of coffee. Those months were challenging. My daughter had ballet twice a week and a residency in Anaheim, my son had Toddler Tumbling and was not yet in school. I was teaching on Tuesdays, in between two back-to-back scripts for school.

A break loomed.

The NU Scholar’s program offered a study abroad opportunity to Tijuana. A weekend away from the kids, a break when there was none, to go down South of the Border? Sign me up! I dutifully did the repeat photography assignments, finding pictures of the past to compare with pictures from today. I was all set. And then my son got pink-eye.

I couldn’t go.

The joys of parenthood.

Flash forward several months, and I was afforded an opportunity to visit Vancouver to study abroad. And I’m so very glad I did. Vancouver is a beautiful place with beautiful people. It’s not an old city, but it is rich with culture and vibrant nature. Had I gone to the city by myself, as a tourist, I would have failed to see the splendor beyond the tourist traps. Going as part of the NU study abroad program, travelling with others, allowed me to see parts of the city most would have passed. An amazing coastline, foggy bridges, strange statues, a shower of autumn-red maple leaves, and buildings with a history all their own. The food was great, the people better, and at the end of each day, our phone cameras were full, and our feet were worn.

While there, my first feelings of Freedom! slipped away as the greatness of the experience enveloped me. It was no longer a trip to escape, but the forging of a new friendship. Vancouver will be with me forever.

Clubs, Education, Graduate Student, self care

Hard Work: Becoming a Teacher

Bethany Rickman headshot

By Bethany Rickman, NU Scholar (July 2018 Cohort)

Master of Education with Single Subject Credential, English – Fresno

If someone would have told me, 8 months ago, that becoming a teacher while earning my Credential and masters would be the hardest work I’ve ever done in my life, I might not have totally believed them. You see, I’ve always considered myself to be a hard worker, and I’ve been able to accomplish most goals that I’ve put my mind to with relative ease. So, I assumed that this goal would be no different.  

But I was wrong. 

Or, rather, I was mentally unprepared.  

The truth is, I have never worked so hard or had to balance so many responsibilities, objectives, and, quite frankly, emotions, ever before.  

Now, this is not to say that I regret setting out to accomplish the goal of becoming a teaching intern and earn a Credential and master’s degree. It has been the most rewarding 8 months of my life. But it has also been the most stressful.  

Although I was unaware of the extent of the hard work around the corner, I was still able to draw on my past hard-working and goal-achieving experience, and combine that with the incredible support and resources I have received at National University.  

So, if there is anyone out there who is about to embark on a journey similar to mine, allow me to be the person who tells you that you are about to work the hardest you ever have in your life. But this warning is not meant to be foreboding, and it happens to come with some helpful tips: 

  1. Use the University Resources- National has an incredible library, writing center, and more! I have absolutely used the writing center on several occasions to help me finalize a paper or perfect my APA formatting. If you’re struggling to complete, perfect, or even understand your coursework, use these resources!  
  1. Create a calendar- You’re going to have so many assignments, observations, assessments, adjunct duties (or whatever the equivalent is for non-teachers) and they’re all going to happen on the same day! Ok, maybe not literally, but it will definitely feel like it. Having some sort of calendar of events will help you keep track because, trust me, you won’t be able to keep it all straight in your head. I’ve tried. And failed. Not only will a calendar help you remember important dates, but it will also help you prioritize and pace your workload.  
  1. Reach out to like-minded colleagues I have been so fortunate to meet dozens and dozens of incredible and inspirational colleagues in my time at National. Whenever I have a question about an assignment or need someone to peer-review my Cal TPAs, I have several people that I can turn to and trust to support me in reaching my goals.  
  1. Join a Club- Now, I know it sounds crazy to add one more thing to your plate when you’re already working this hard. But joining a club has not only widened my peer circle, but it has made me feel like I am part of the bigger picture here at National. Sometimes, being bogged down in work and coursework can feel isolating. You’re so hyper focused on your own goals that you don’t stop to realize what an amazing institution you’re a part of, and the role you can play in giving back. Since joining a club, I not only have an outlet to help relieve the stress of working hard, but I have also met more incredible colleagues and staff who also play a role in supporting me in my personal goals.  
  1. Make time for self-care- If there’s one last thing I can leave you with, it’s a friendly reminder that you are a human, not a machine. You need to stop and take a breath every once in a while. In fact, schedule it on that calendar that you just created. Whatever helps you decompress and re-energize so you’re ready to tackle your next goal, do it! You NEED it!  

Now get to work!  

 

Education, Graduate Student

I am Supported as an NU Scholar

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By Alexandra Wigmore, NU Scholar (July 2018 Cohort)

Master of Arts, Education with Single Subject Credential in Health Science – Los Angeles

https://portfolium.com/AlexandraWigmo 

The NU Scholar’s Program has changed my life in the best way possible. When I started as a National University graduate student to earn my Master’s degree in Education with a Single-Subject credential in Health Science, I knew that I was taking a leap of faith going back to school after so many years. I was nervous, but felt a pull to earn this degree. I had been through different career paths in my life, but nothing has made me feel as whole as helping young people through service, compassion, and education. I knew I needed to continue my life in a field where I could serve and help change the lives of others.

I had only been enrolled in my program for a few months when I received a life-changing email inviting me to apply for the NU Scholar’s Program. At first, it seemed too good to be true, and I researched this program and called many different people to make sure I was really understanding what it offered. I saw so many opportunities that this program could offer me—as well as ways that I could contribute to this program—and I worked hard to prepare for the application and interview process.

I still feel lucky and beyond grateful to have earned a spot in the July 2018 Cohort. While I knew this program was special, nothing could have prepared me for just how meaningful it has been and continues to be. This program offers a pathway to be your best self, and the support, encouragement, and drive I feel from being in this program are unlike anything else I’ve experienced. We are encouraged to form connections with fellow scholars, administration, and staff, and receive the warmest and most supportive feedback. I am encouraged to pursue my dreams and I never feel that something is too far out of reach. I have met inspiring people who have added to my knowledge, passion, and insight into how to change the world for the better.

One key aspect of the NU Scholars Program is creating a Community-Based Leadership Project. While I was intimated by this at first, now am just inspired, especially as I learn how I am not alone in this pursuit. The NU Scholar’s Program has provided me with networking tools, leadership and editing skills, more informed opinions, positive insight, and constructive thoughts on how to take my ideas from inception to execution. The connections I continue to make through this program have convinced me that we can all achieve what we set our minds to.

The NU Scholar’s Program is a chain reaction of hope, drive, accomplishments, positive influences, and hard work. As an NU Scholar, I have so many people I trust whom I can turn to for extra support and advice. I am provided with trainings, readings, community service projects, and advice to grow as a person, leader, student, and scholar. The NU Scholar’s Program has been my motivating factor through my time at National University. The support that this program offers me keeps me going as I continue to work my hardest and to strive to be the best version of myself. I have always had a passion for helping others, and the NU Scholar’s Program has given me unique opportunities to make my dreams a reality. I have realized, through this program, that no dream or idea is too big, and that with the right support, anything is possible.