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Veteran’s Testimonial of Loyola and SCPS

 

By: Eric Taveras

Deciding to attend Loyola University Chicago was a simple choice because I believe in Loyola’s reputation of excellence and its’ principle of, “Preparing people to lead extraordinary lives.” My experiences with the Jesuits go back to the days when I was a young man attending Xavier High School in New York. One thing I would take from my four years there is what it means to be a “Man for Others.” This means to use the education and experiences one has received and to dedicate his life to the service of the world. Having this perspective and being able to use the effective reasoning and strong interpersonal skills that I have gained from attending Loyola University Chicago provided me the opportunity to be in the position I am today to continue my life of service.

My journey in life has taken me many places and has provided the opportunity to make a difference in many lives. One of the most memorable parts of my life was the time I spent as a Combat medic in the United States Army. During that time I had the honor to serve this country while deployed to Iraq. My duty was to protect and care for the soldiers of my unit and the people of Iraq. I mention this because St. Ignatius of Loyola was also a soldier. After suffering leg wounds in battle, St. Ignatius Loyola faced a long road to recovery. During that time, he chose to dedicate his life to service. In August 2009, I was medically retired from the U.S. Army due to injuries I sustained during my deployment. When my military career came to an end, I knew my only choice was to continue my education so that I can do more for other Veterans and continue the Veteran’s mission of, “being a better American.”

After speaking to other Veterans, I was told Loyola University Chicago was one of the universities that offered the most help and fostered an environment that allowed a smoother transition to school and civilian life. Loyola has a Wellness Center that can help Veterans transition into the student body while creating a sense of belonging to a university that truly cares about its students.  SCPS provides advisors that can help the Veteran choose a degree plan that provides an optimal opportunity for success at Loyola University Chicago toward an actual career since the scheduling and format of the classes offered are very helpful due to the diversity of the students and teachers.

The Financial Aid Department can ease the burden of finances for Student Veterans and particularly helpful was their knowledge of the Post 9/11 GI Bill. Streamlining the GI bill certification process and allowing the certification to take place when classes begin made the process almost seamless. I mention this because like most Veterans one of the biggest obstacles to attending school is the burden of finances. To be able to go to a university that can help keep those costs down and provide a smoother transition between semesters is very important.

Loyola University Chicago also provides excellent services that are helpful in providing student Veterans a greater opportunity to succeed while completing a degree such as the Career Development Office and the Tutoring center. These were services I utilized that helped me make the Dean’s list twice and find an internship with the Department of Energy.

Loyola and SCPS helped facilitate an environment of true learning and remove the barriers most people would feel when trying to finish their education and obtain a degree so that they may enhance or begin a new career. General Douglas McArthur said, “A true leader has the confidence to stand alone, the courage to make tough decisions and the compassion to listen to the needs of others. He does not set out to be a leader, but becomes one by the equality of his actions and the integrity of his intent.” The experiences and lessons learned while in the U.S. Army and at Loyola University Chicago have further instilled my sense of duty and loyalty to this country. The discipline, teamwork and strong work ethic are skills I learned while in the service but have been further enhanced with an education from Loyola. The values mentioned by General McArthur have helped me become the leader I aspire to be and now with an education from Loyola I can continue my journey and achieve my goals to become a better American.

Eric Taveras is one of a number of Veterans currently in the BA MAL program at SCPS. He will graduate in May 2012. While currently still a work in process, the Veteran’s Initiative at Loyola is on its way to providing Veterans all of the necessary steps toward a successful student life at Loyola.

For more information on Veteran’s assistance at Loyola, please see the following helpful Loyola links: Veterans Admissions: http://www.luc.edu/undergrad/applyforadmission/veterans.html;

Financial Aid Office/Veteran’s Educational Benefits:

http://www.luc.edu/finaid/specialprograms_armedservices.shtml; Chapter 33: Post 9/11 GI Bill: http://www.luc.edu/finaid/Post911.shtml; additional Veterans Educational Benefits: http://www.luc.edu/finaid/veteducation.shtml; assistance from the Wellness Center: http://www.luc.edu/wellness/selfcare/Veteran.shtml; and for job placement assistance: Career Development Center: http://www.luc.edu/career/resources_veteran.shtml.