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.

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.

adult learner, nursing, Parents

Returning to school after a hiatus

Deborah Chambers_DSC07346

By Deborah Nabubwaya Chambers, NU Scholar (July 2018 Cohort)
Master’s in Public Healthcare Administration

I grew up in Nairobi, Kenya and did my undergraduate program in Psychology at Daystar University. After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in 2007, I wanted to continue with my education, but unfortunately, due to life events and other family responsibilities, I could not return to school as soon as I had planned.

After relocating to the United States in 2011, I finally enrolled in some prerequisites to complete courses that would make it possible for me to pursue a nursing degree. One of those classes was an epidemiology class, and I instantly had an epiphany that public health was exactly what I wanted to pursue. I had finally found a field that connected all of my interests in nursing, healthcare in general, and community development. My desire to help others, work in healthcare, and support underserved communities would still be supported by pursuing public health. I searched for graduate programs that I could pursue online while I continued working night shifts at a hospital in West Texas.

A little over 8 years later, I was back in school as an adult learner. I started my first class just before my family and I relocated to Illinois for work. Subsequently, I decided to be a stay-at-home mother and pursue my graduate degree in public health.

Returning to school in 2015 after a hiatus was certainly not an easy decision. It meant giving up a lot of free time and balancing everything to meet my educational goals. I did my assignments whenever I got a chance, at odd hours like during my children’s nap times and after they went to bed at night. No matter how busy I was, I made sure that I did school work every day so that I would not fall behind. Pursuing an accelerated program meant giving it my all right from the beginning, and I took classes almost every month for two years. My oldest child knows how to do a good impression of me using the computer to scale the mountains of assignments and research papers. One of my proudest moments of being an adult learner was taking my entire family to my graduation in San Diego.

Throughout my program, my family kept cheering me on, and gave me wings to fly. My oldest son tells me daily that he is so proud of me and that he wants to be like me. He says he wants to go to school and type on the computer like mama and help sick people. I know that I am positively impacting my family members’ lives, as well as the lives of many others in my community who will benefit from the global and community health research that I am actively participating in. This is all thanks to the knowledge and opportunities that I have received while attending school at National University.

After graduating in 2017, I still desired to advance my career and learn more, returning to school to pursue National University’s healthcare administration program. Even though I have been successful in an accelerated program before, I continue learning every day about how to balance my work, family, and school responsibilities. It has not always been easy but every challenge has made it a growth experience that is nothing short of marvelous. Who knew I would absolutely enjoy school this much?

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adult learner, Community College, Parents, Transfer

The Transfer Experience

By Jiaunna Arnell, NU Scholar (July 2018 Cohort)
Bachelor of Arts, Early Childhood Education

I was lucky that my transfer experience from Miramar College (a community college) to National University was fairly smooth.  As a student who has successfully completed this transition, I wanted to share a little bit about what I think helped me.

Someone once told me that “C’s get degrees.” However, my mother, along with folks from institutions that I was engaged with in my youth, made it clear that I needed to always do my very best. I been never been the type of student who can comfortably rest on just getting by, and I think that this commitment to going the extra mile has helped me to succeed. While I was a community college student, I also took advantage of EOPS and CalWORKs, two state-funded programs that helped me to create personalized education plans based on my goals, progress, and major.

My counselor at Miramar College was a huge source of support. From the moment I set foot in her office, she made me feel appreciated and valuable to the Miramar College student family. She also reminded me about events like transfer fairs, where various institutions come out to present for their respective universities. Especially if you have an idea of the university that you plan to attend, keeping in the know regarding changes or opportunities at your university of choice is very important, and deciding which one you want to attend long before you plan to transfer is really helpful.

Researching the university of your choice, taking tours, and visiting the campus are all good ways to decide whether or not it is right for you. Once you have chosen a university, this makes the rest of the process fairly simple, because you know exactly what you need to get into that particular university.

My mother is an alumnus of National University, and has a bachelor’s degree in a similar field, so I knew that National University was going to be my four-year university from the start.

Once all of these elements—determination, support, and a target university—are in place, the real work comes in maintaining your grades, building good relationships with faculty (who can help you by writing letters of reference and by offering support), looking into grants and scholarships to lighten the financial load, and, above all, making the commitment to focus on school first: School has to be your top priority in every way possible. I love Miramar College and I am so glad that I was a student there, and I am also so excited to be at National University. For people who have to balance being parents and students with working full time, National University is a god-send for expanding our academic horizons in relation to our lifestyles, responsibilities, and career goals. I love being a part of the National University family, and I can’t wait to see what the rest of this experience brings to my academic and professional growth.