Campus Helps Vets And Families To Thrive In College Environment
PHOTO: CARLOS MOREIRA (CENTER) WITH MEMBERS OF THE STUDENT VETERAN CLUB
Ask Carlos Moreira about the mission of the USF Sarasota-Manatee campus’ Military and Veteran Success Center and he’ll say it’s to be “veteran-inclusive,” and not just “veteran-friendly.”
The distinction is important because the center’s goal is to provide 360-degree support to veterans to help them transition from military to college life and achieve success throughout and after their educational careers.
“At USF, we want to ensure our student veterans get the resources they need to become as productive in their educational and post-educational careers as they were in the military,” said Moreira, the campus’ veteran services administrator who is expanding his role this year to include a deeper level of community engagement and alumni relations with USF veterans.
The center does this by connecting veterans to educational benefits, scholarship opportunities and support services on and off campus. It works closely with financial aid, academic advising, career services and other USF offices. And for those seeking additional help, Moreira and his team provide access to counseling and wellness resources.
Efforts like these are why the University of South Florida is recognized as one of the nation’s top universities for veterans. The “Military Times” Best for Vets: Colleges 2020 report ranked USF first in Florida and fourth nationally among all four-year U.S. institutions and “U.S. News and World Report” named USF a 2020 Best College for Veterans.
“We are so pleased to have the Military and Veteran Success Center on the Sarasota-Manatee campus, a place where veterans and their families can feel at home and have access to important resources to help them thrive as college students,” Regional Chancellor Karen A. Holbrook said. “We want our veterans to feel comfortable on our campus, and the center provides a wonderful atmosphere for all of our students.”
Additionally, through the campus’ career services and community engagement efforts, student veterans can network with local businesses, nonprofit agencies and other employers to establish valuable internships and learn about possible new career paths.
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For those looking to give back, the campus offers a variety of campus and student organizations to join, including the Student Veterans Society, which helps bring attention to veteran issues through events like the campus’ 9/11 Remembrance Ceremony, the Veterans Day and July 4th parades in downtown Sarasota and various commemorative programs at the Sarasota National Cemetery.
High-achieving student veterans have the additional opportunity to be recognized by the SALUTE Veterans National Honor Society, the only academic honor society that formally recognizes the service and scholastic achievement of veterans who have served or are currently serving in the military, National Guard or the reserves. Local SALUTE chapters share information about peer engagements, mentorships, scholarships, networking and career opportunities.
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The center’s welcoming environment offers a place for vets to relax and enjoy time with fellow veterans. Created with help of a $50,000 anonymous donation in 2016, the center was designed with student veterans in mind – featuring a lounge, conference room, computers, kitchen and an office – all in an effort to promote camaraderie and educational success.
Moreira, the center’s director, has a strong understanding of higher education and the military. Before earning two undergraduate business degrees and an MBA at USF, he spent more than 15 years on active duty in the Marine Corps and three years as a reservist.
Additional support for the center is offered through local charitable organizations, including Mission United – a United Way-related initiative that provides access to housing, employment, education, health, financial and legal services – and the Sarasota chapter of the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA). Since 2018, more than 60 student veterans have received financial aid from MOAA and other organizations to assist with tuition, books and college-related expenses.
“USF understands the importance of our veteran community and the sacrifices our student veterans have made,” Moreira said. “By showing our support to them through these many services and programs, we are recognizing those sacrifices and saying to them, ‘Welcome Home.’”
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