Your support shown to St. Bonaventure Student Veterans is truly appreciated. Thank you for helping send veterans to Assisi and Rome!
When I was younger I hated school. So when a recruiter cold-called me and asked if I'd ever thought about the Army, I leapt at the chance not to go to college. I completed my Senior year laughing at all my friends panicking over admissions essays and SATs.
After spending five and half years in uniform, I was medically discharged in 2014.
At the time, college seemed like the easy answer when I had no clue what to do next. Since my experience had been laughing at colleges rather than applying to them, I had no idea what to look for. I picked the college closest to where I happened to be living at the time and went for it.
The school was not a good fit for me, professionally or personally. The Veteran Support office left me feeling like I was just another number in the database and I felt isolated from the other students. The entire situation was something I wasn’t ready for mentally. I started skipping classes and pretty soon I was failing. I finished my second semester there and never went back.
Being someone who's always felt smart and successful, this was a huge blow to my confidence. Around this time, I also started having severe panic attacks and I felt like my life was unraveling all at once.
Then, an old boss from the military called me out of the blue and asked, “Have you ever thought about New York?”
It was the chance at a fresh start and I took it. Apparently, I make all my major life decisions based off random cold calls!
I worked for a year and took that time to regroup and seek therapy before I felt I was ready to reconsider college.
I've had the privilege to talk with other Veterans and have found my story is more the rule than the exception. The transition out of uniform into civilian life has taken far longer, and been much more challenging, than any of us expected.
From day one, the culture Bona's has begun cultivating for veterans has made a huge impact. The veteran's lounge provides a quiet space to work and serves as a conduit connecting me to the other veterans here on campus. Within the first few days, I already knew the names of those who used the center regularly. A year and a half later I am still lucky enough to call them friends. Coming from a school where I felt isolated for an entire year, this has been incredible. I had thought that the camaraderie I had known in the Army was long gone. But the opportunities available through Bona's has connected me once again.
Now, I am one semester away from completing my bachelor's. I began school again with the intent of becoming a mental health counselor. I want to help in whatever way I can to ensure future Veterans do not struggle as much as I did with the transition.
While in school, I've become involved with many opportunities which are helping to further my goal. A few other veterans and I have been working to reinvigorate the Student Veterans Association chapter. I am part of a work-study program through the VA which assists our veteran service coordinator here on campus. I've also been working as a youth counselor in group homes with New Directions Youth and Family Services.
I laugh when I look back on high school Emily who did not even want to attend college. Time changes everyone, and I have no doubt the military sped up my journey. I could not be more thankful for my service or for the role St. Bonaventure is currently playing. I would not be where I am right now without them.
If this fundraiser can help even one more Veteran who is in the shoes I was in three years ago, I will graduate in December of 2018 feeling like I've done something a bit bigger than myself.
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