By Kyle Wynn, President of Student Veterans at Utah (SVU) & United States Marine Corps Veteran
College has been a different, and at times challenging, experience for me compared to other students. I started my college experience after nearly 6 years in the United States Marine Corps. I enlisted shortly after high school and had minimal college experience prior to enrolling at the U. This, in combination with transitioning to civilian life, had the potential to make my first semester extremely difficult. However, serving in the military was overall beneficial because I was able to foster some key skills needed for success in higher education, though there were some disadvantages as well. In the military, I learned discipline, leadership, and adaptability.
The first skill that made my college experience exponentially easier was the discipline that my time in the Marines instilled in me. Having no study habits and having nearly no formal education since high school, discipline taught me to sit down and study until I understood the topic. This was a huge advantage for achieving an A in each class. Having this discipline was also instrumental in setting good study habits and a schedule that has continued to help me even during this pandemic.
The second skill that was an incredible asset to me is my leadership skills. I was able to really refine them during my time in the Marines as the second in command at a Marine Security Guard detachment assigned to protecting the US Embassy in Oslo, Norway. Refining my leadership traits has helped me and my groups excel in group projects, and go on to gain perfect scores. One of the aspects of leadership is recognizing your own faults and working to rectify them to the best of your ability. Being able to do this has helped me be able to go to my professors and work through things that I have been difficult. No amount of discipline can help when there is a fundamental lack of knowledge to be able to proceed forward in your course of study.
The final skill that assisted me in being able to both transition to civilian life, but also student life, was my ability to adapt to changing situations quickly. Being able to adapt was another key element of my Marine Corps career, especially when being posted as embassy security. I was officially out of the Marines the Friday before the Fall 2018 semester began, giving me a total of one weekend to shift gears into being a student. This adaptability has been the key to my success in shifting to student life and excelling in my course work.
Finally, despite all the advantages, finding a social group that understands my experience has been a challenge. Fortunately, I found spaces at the U where other veterans can come together and support one another. If you are a vet that needs support, please do not hesitate to reach out to the Student Veterans at Utah (SVU), the Veterans Support Center (VSC), or the Veteran Career Coach, Crystal Cory.