ISSUED: 2 November 2015
MEDIA CONTACT: Valerie Owens
SHEPHERDSTOWN, WV — Shepherd University will commemorate Veterans Day by accepting the 5 Star Challenge—an initiative that encourages all of West Virginia’s two- and four-year institutions to adopt a set of standards to help veterans achieve an education. This year’s Veterans Day speaker, U.S. Air Force Col. Randall Dell, will discuss how the holiday came to be and why it’s important to recognize veterans. The ceremony will take place on Wednesday, November 11, at 11 a.m. in the Student Center Cumberland Room. A reception will follow.
“I think the 5 Star Challenge addresses issues veterans may face,” said Mary Beth Myers, Shepherd veterans support services coordinator. “We want to be a veteran-friendly school, and we certainly want to welcome more veterans.”
Myers said students who are veterans have unique needs because many of them went straight from high school into the military. Even though it’s their first time attending college, they are often older than traditional students. She said many are also using the GI Bill to pay for their education.
“Advising and making sure veterans understand all the academic lingo is important,” Myers said. “When they use the GI Bill they only have so many months to complete a degree, so they don’t want to waste any time.”
During the Veterans Day ceremony the president of Shepherd’s Student Veterans Organization, Matt Garman, will present the 5 Star Challenge coin to Dr. Sylvia Manning, interim president.
This year’s keynote Veterans Day speaker, U.S. Air Force Col. Randall Dell, is the individual mobilization augmentee to the assistant secretary of defense of homeland defense and global security at the Pentagon. Dell is responsible for developing and coordinating the defense department’s strategic planning, military operational support to civil authorities, and emergency preparedness activities.
Dell is a decorated veteran who served in operations in Iraq and Afghanistan—Iraqi Freedom, Enduring Freedom, and Desert Storm.
5 Star Challenge goals
The 5 Star Challenge is an initiative of the Office of Veterans Education and Training Programs within the Division of Student Affairs at the Higher Education Policy Commission (HEPC) and West Virginia Community and Technical College System (WVCTCS). It is a tribute to the military tradition of issuing “challenge coins” to service members who embody the values and standards of their military units. In addition to issuing the challenge to campuses, the HEPC and WVCTCS are committing to providing more resources to help student veterans navigate the higher education system and find support on campus and in the community.
In accepting the Challenge, Shepherd is committed to:
- Providing a signed commitment from Manning to adopt best practices and standards.
- Emphasizing a focus on increasing access and affordability to higher education for student veterans.
- Providing increased academic support, including priority registration for classes.
- Enhancing social networks for veterans on campus.
- Encouraging greater collaboration with community organizations working to meet the needs of military service members.
A detailed outline of the Challenge can be found at www.cfwv.com, the state’s free college and career-planning website.
“We are proud to announce that all public four-year undergraduate institutions in West Virginia have accepted the 5 Star Challenge,” said Dr. Paul Hill, chancellor of the HEPC. “Their participation in this effort not only acknowledges a sincere commitment to meeting the unique needs of our student veterans, but also results in real policies that will provide tangible benefits to military service members who are pursuing higher education. By providing student veterans with services such as priority registration and building stronger support networks on campus, we are honoring their service to our country and equipping them with the resources they need to succeed.”
“Our two-year public colleges are fully committed to providing resources and support to ensure the success of our student veterans,” said Dr. Sarah Tucker, chancellor of the WVCTCS. “Student veterans contribute so much to our campus communities through their service to our country and their leadership in the classroom. Accepting the 5 Star Challenge is a way for us to acknowledge their contributions and sacrifices—and to assist them in balancing both their educational pursuits and their unique experiences as past or present military service members.”
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