Veterans’ Day at Le Moyne: Student Veterans Discuss their Experience

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It was a great day to celebrate Veterans’ Day with some friends, food and drinks at Le Moyne College. Students gathered at the Student Veterans’ House on Springfield Road to commemorate, socialize and celebrate a day dedicated to those who sacrificed so much for the freedom of our country.

Some Veterans often return to school after transitioning from the military so that they can update their skills or transition to a new career. A number of Veterans return to their home towns while others move to a different part of the country and start completely anew.

“I really like this school. I picked Le Moyne because of the small class sizes,” said veteran Christopher Moore, who is currently working towards a dual major in Psychology and Philosophy. “The professors seem to care about my success and I like that student-teacher interaction.”

Moore described his transition to Le Moyne as more personable than a previous experience he had at Syracuse University. Moore said the faculty and Veteran Coordinator were very helpful in starting his education.

“Le Moyne feels like a school and not like a business,” Moore said. “As a Veteran, the transition was not too bad, obviously the age difference and life experience made it a bit harder to connect with other students, but otherwise everything has been great.”

Similarly, Elijah Lollie ‘18 described his experience at Le Moyne so far as “stellar,” and one that has pushed him outside of his comfort zone.

“It has been years since I have been in school,” said Lollie. “ It has been a little scary and difficult. But I go to my classes, I put in my time and effort, and the people I have met have helped me along the way. I participate in SVA [Student Veteran Association] events (such as the rescue mission services) to do my part.”

Not all the Veterans at Le Moyne are undergraduate students; some, like graduate student and Marine Corps Veteran Johnny Santiago ‘15, have a slightly a different perspective.

“As a post Vietnam Veteran, I do not get as many benefits as the newer Veterans. I started college later in life, but I am set to complete my graduate degree this year,” said Santiago. “ I try to help other students structure their classes and talk to them about possible career options. Because I am older, many of the students often come to me for career advice, and I like being able to help.”

The SVA Vice President and Co-Founder Michael Venditte ‘17 has had a similar experience while at Le Moyne, describing it as welcoming and filled with new opportunities.

“Having the opportunity to facilitate and grow our vision from the blueprints, to the framework, to the extent it is today has equipped me with vital skills paramount for my transition into the professional workforce,” said Venditte. “We are recognized as an official chapter of The Student Veterans of America—a national organization and it is an incredible thing to be able to say for me. This school has opportunity all around, you just need to be motivated and see them.”

As always, everyone was welcome to participate in the celebration, and some of the participants were not Veterans. One such person was Kevin Benedict ‘17.

“I am not a Veteran, I am currently in the Marine Corps Reserves. I am working to get my degree so that I may become an officer,” said Benedict. “Coming to Le Moyne, I found my professors to be very supportive when I have military drills and training. I really want to be in the military, but I also have to get my degree because a bachelor degree is required to become an officer. So being at a school where I can get the support I need really helps.”