Campus Services Ease Transition for Military-Connected Students


Campus Services Ease Transition for Military-Connected Students

When Emily Hanwacker began taking classes on the University of Oklahoma campus, her needs were different than typical college students. 

The senior health and exercise science major had just spent six years as a weapons loader with the United States Air Force, and she knew the transition to civilian life would come with challenges. 

Once on campus, she sought out the many services OU offers for military-affiliated students and got involved in OU’s Student Veterans Association, where she now serves as president.

“Veterans learn differently,” Hanwacker said. “We have different learning needs, and ever since I found SVA, I’ve found family.”

Here to Help

OU Extended Campus realizes military-connected students, like Hanwacker, face different challenges than typical college students. 

“Veterans learn differently. We have different learning needs, and ever since I found SVA, I’ve found family.” - Emily Hanwacker

Military-connected students may be older than traditional students, and because of their unique life experiences they may find it hard to connect with classmates and professors while transitioning from military to civilian life. Others may be juggling work and families, or living with a disability.

LaDawn Jones, interim advising director for OU Extended Campus, struggled in college herself after leaving the Navy. She went on to complete a Master of Human Relations degree and has made it her passion to help military-connected students find success. She said OU Extended Campus makes it a priority to help military-connected students achieve their educational goals by providing a staff of dedicated academic advisors and offering a range of student services, including flexible courses.

Those services include:

Other Support Services

In addition to help getting enrolled and settled into classes, the university offers several support services through the OU Veterans Support Alliance. Veteran Student Services offices are available on all of OU’s campuses, including the Norman campus, OU Extended Campus, OU Health Sciences Center and OU-Tulsa. Through appreciation events, academic support, financial assistance and other opportunities, the VSA strives to provide a positive and supportive learning environment, helping military-connected students achieve academic excellence and personal success.

The OU Student Veterans Association offers a number of resources and activities, including tailgates during home football games and veterans’ appreciation week events.

“SVA is our biggest resource. We get them connected to all of the resources available on campus,” Hanwacker said.

Another helpful resource is OU Green Zone, a network of faculty and staff across campus who are trained to provide assistance to military-connected students. Each Green Zone member is a qualified expert in their specific area, able to advise students and answer questions. Students can visit the OU Green Zone website, where they’ll find a list of Green Zone faculty and staff.

In addition to providing assistance, OU Green Zone hosts and volunteers events for military-connected students, sponsors Student Veterans Association events and advocates for military-connected students across campus and within the community.

“All of these services help military-affiliated students as they’re transitioning from military life to civilian life, and hopefully it gives them a better chance at succeeding when they get here,” Hanwacker said.

Jennifer Trimmer, director of Veteran Students Services at OU, said the university has a long tradition of service to and for military personnel and is always striving to create more opportunities and services to make the transition easier.

“We hope to strengthen our commitment to our military-connected students by continuing to anticipate their needs and offering innovative solution to fill those needs,” Trimmer said. 

Are you a military-connected student or do you know someone who is? Learn more about services and resources on the OU Extended Campus website.

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Tami Althoff

Tami Althoff holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism. She is a reporter with more than 20 years’ experience working for newspapers, including The Oklahoman. She has covered everything from breaking news to local music and art. She loves sports, especially OU football and basketball games, where she often embarrasses her children by yelling too loudly.