“It’s kind of a long story,” Adam Pawlowski said, speaking about how he came to be one of 20 veterans at the Warrior-Scholar Project at the University.
For the second year in a row, the University hosted the program, one-week academic boot camp designed to help servicemen and women make the transition from the military to the classroom.
The Warrior-Scholar Project began at Yale University in 2012 and has expanded to 11 colleges
According to University alum Ryan Pavel, the program director for the University’s campus and a former marine, it will expand to seven more campuses this year.
“The veterans have a rigorous schedule and are taught using a humanities-based curriculum,” a course packet on the program reads. “There is Tocqueville on American democracy, Shelley’s poem ‘Ozymandias,’ Hannah Arendt’s political philosophy on freedom and quite a number of style manuals, guides and essays on writing.”
Pavel said the academic coursework is rigorous and because it is contained to one weeks, students take it seriously.
“It’s long days,” Pavel said. “Breakfast is at 8, and most days, we push until 10 or 11 at night. When students come here, they know it’s only one week and that they have a lot to do, so it’s very focused.”
With the exception of transportation costs, the program is free for selected veterans thanks to funding from private donors such as the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Kyle Piunti, who went through the boot camp in 2014 and subsequently attended Columbia University, is now a tutor in analytical reading. He said seeing the growth of his students has been rewarding.
“A lot of students, when they first come in, are overwhelmed with a text,” Piunti said. “Then you start to see them develop as far as understanding the text and the direction in which we’re taking them.”
People from every branch of the service attended the boot camp this year. Two veterans who attended this year’s camp are Pawlowski and Cody Gilman, who said they are considering attending the University in the future.
Though they attended the camp together, their stories regarding transition from military to academic life are different.
Pawlowski received an associate’s degree in political science and joined the Marine Corps, but a leg injury forced him to leave the service and pursue a different path.
“… I was on a combat deployment in the Middle East and, from a severe blow, I got injured,” Pawlowski said. “I had 11 surgeries and almost lost my leg. I realized, I can’t do what I love any more, so I’m going to have to go to school.”
Pawlowski then decided to return to political science and pursue a bachelor’s degree. He said the Warrior-Scholar Project has both given him the skillset to be a successful student and also broadened his view of the world.
“Education in general just kind of helps mold the way you think, your character, the way you live your life and the way you see things,” Pawlowski said. “Being here has shown me that I can be a student, that I can excel at an upper-division type of school. If I had gotten injured, got out of the military and just went back to school, I would’ve done myself a dishonor and a disfavor because I would’ve been scrounging for help.”
Cody Gilman attended Kalamazoo Valley Community College before joining the military. During college, he said, his time management and writing skills needed to be honed. While he was in the military, he said, he still wanted to go back to school, so when his sergeant told him about the Warrior-Scholar Project, he applied.
“The military is so simple, and this is kind of an eye-opening experience. To get you into that dense material and being able to understand and dissect it gives you confidence to know you can keep up in a class led by, really, some of the best professors in the country, arguably” said Gilman.
According to the Warrior-Scholar Project’s website, every person who has gone through the program and gone to college has continued pursuing their education.