New transitional program helps vets prepare for college


Justin Wahy, Asst. News Editor

This fall, Marywood implemented a new program for veterans who are interested in going back to school. Marywood is currently the only institution in the nation that offers this program.

Renewal Veteran Education and Transition Services, ( R-VETS), currently offers free eight week English, writing and math courses to both veterans in the community and those enrolled at Marywood free of cost.

The program has a limit of fifteen students per session, but all veterans are urged to apply.

According to Lauren A. Williams, director of Military and Veteran Services, “the program is a college access program for community Veterans, and it is a college retention program for Marywood Veterans.”  Classes for this semester began on October 18th, 2013.

The program serves as a college access program for community members, and a college retention program for currently enrolled veterans. Williams stated, “The best part of the college access program is that the program essentially preps the veterans to go back to school and to build up confidence in themselves even if they chose not to go back to school.”

The program hasn’t been fully marketed yet, because this semester the program is running as a pilot, and will be implemented as a regular program in the spring.

“Back in December 2012, AmeriCorps VISTA contacted Marywood University because they knew that we had an office here, and they asked me if I had any ideas as to how we can assist veterans in education. The R-VETS program was my idea,” said Williams.

AmeriCorps VISTA, which is a national service program with a focus of fighting poverty, put Williams in contact with Pennsylvania Campus Compact (PACC) to put her idea into action.  According to their website, PACC is a organization that offers statewide support for institutions that offer civic and community engagement and campus/community partnerships. The PACC currently has 65 institutional members across Pennsylvania.

Williams said that “the Board of Trustees for PACC are College Presidents, and they have shown a lot of interest in the program.”

PACC assisted Marywood in finding a VISTA Volunteer for the program. James Tiger is serving as director of the program and an AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer for this academic year.

“We are hoping that the program is successful here. If it is successful, the program can be implemented at many other schools across the country,” said Tiger.

As a requirement for membership of PACC, Marywood has to provide funding for the program, and professors for the classes are volunteers. All of the supplies and books are being donated. Dr. Laurie McMillan, chair of the English Department, said that the English Department Faculty donated calculators for the program.

Interested applicants can stop by the Office of Military and Veteran Affairs, located in room 226B in the Liberal Arts Center, or by calling (570)-961-4584 for more information.