Veteran Transitions Back to the Life of a Student
For many students, college begins after graduating high school. However, not everyone takes this path. Austin Shull, for instance, chose to serve in the military before deciding to pursue his degree. Transitioning back to the life as a student can be daunting, but the University of Findlay makes this process easy and accommodating for veterans like Shull.
The summer before his senior year at Lakota High School in Kansas, Ohio, in 2012, Shull signed up for the U.S. Marine Corps with his mother’s approval since he was only 17 years old. Two weeks after graduating from high school, he left for boot camp.
Shull was a combat engineer in Combat Assault Company, 3rd Marine Regiment and reached the rank of Sergeant. He was stationed in Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, and Okinawa, Japan. He held several positions within his unit, including team leader, squad leader, and temporary platoon sergeant.
He worked with military members of several allied countries including Japan, South Korea, Tonga, and Indonesia. Having been stationed in Japan, he worked with the Japanese military the most. “We spent a lot of time learning about the culture through visiting several sites and participating in events where Japanese soldiers taught us things such as Shodo (Japanese Calligraphy),” he said. He was honored that he participated in a July 2015 ceremony where he and his fellow Marines repatriated the remains of members of the 2nd Marine Division who had died on Tarawa during World War II.
In September 2017, Shull left active duty to attend the University of Findlay, where he is now a sophomore accounting student.
Shull described his transition back into student life after four years of military service as “interesting.” It took time for him to adjust to a completely different lifestyle. “I think the first semester I spent as much time learning how to be a student and what going to school again was like as I did learning in my classes,” he said. “Quickly, though, I feel that I’ve figured out my style and have gotten used to the college life.” While he thinks there may be some disadvantages to being a non-traditional student, he says his military experience has provided him with advantages that other students may not have. “My experience as a vet has helped me to be more outgoing as a person and feel more confident in myself,” he said. “It has made me more willing to take opportunities that I wouldn’t have taken advantage of before.”
University of Findlay recognizes and is grateful for the sacrifices that United States military personnel and their families make and have made to maintain the nation’s safety and to uphold its citizens’ constitutional rights. Findlay has been named to Victory Media’s Military Friendly® schools list four times.
“Findlay has been very accommodating for me as a veteran,” Shull said. “Any time I have ever had questions about my GI Bill, the financial aid office has been outstanding in answering my question.” In addition to the financial assistance, Shull has appreciated the support from the University through events and guest veteran speakers.
Shull’s love for Findlay goes beyond veteran support. “What stands out for me the most about Findlay is the small school feeling,” he said. “Having graduated from a small school, this makes Findlay feel more comfortable for me. This allows every student to get a unique experience because the faculty can really focus on helping the students they teach.”
The University of Findlay will host its annual Veterans Day observance on Nov. 11 at 4 p.m. at the Center for Student Life’s Veterans Honor Wall. The observance is open to the public.