By Cliff Foster
Among the nearly 23,000 students at MSU Denver are roughly 1,000 who share a common experience: Their service to the country as members of the armed forces.
And this week, the Auraria Campus is poised to honor those students and all veterans and military members with a series of events running up to Veterans Day, which is on Sunday, Nov. 11.
Activities open with film screenings and discussions on Wednesday from 12:30 – 5:30 p.m. in the Tivoli Roger Braun Lounge. The annual Veterans Day ceremony on Thursday in the Tivoli Commons will begin at 10:45 a.m. and feature a flag-raising at 11:11 a.m. followed by remarks by MSU Denver President Stephen Jordan and other campus leaders. A full day of events is planned for Saturday, Nov. 10., including an ROTC 5K run starting at 8 a.m. on the Auraria Campus (to register click here); a parade from the Pepsi Center to Civic Center Park via 14th Street starting at 10 a.m., and a celebration and fireworks display on campus from 3 – 7 p.m. For more information, click here.
According to the Office of Institutional Research, roughly 80 percent of the MSU Denver student-veterans are male, 60 percent are under 30 and nearly two-thirds are white. A large majority are continuing students enrolled full-time. The most popular major for this group is criminal justice and criminology, with computer information systems (CIS) rounding out the top 10.
Among those seeking a CIS degree is Army Spec. Elijah Gartin, who balances classes with his military duties as an intelligence analyst in the 1st Space Brigade at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs.
“I don’t really like it when people thank me for my service,” Gartin says. “It was something I decided to do. But for the people that have gone overseas and done their job, it’s great to have a day to honor them.”
Cyndi Gelston enrolled at the University in fall 2010, just after leaving the Air Force where she spent 27 years as a nurse. She expects to graduate with a degree in art history.
“I wanted to do something totally different…I’m rediscovering myself, and Metro is a really nice place to do that,” she says. “The instructors are really accommodating…It’s a community environment and I’m going to be sad when I graduate.”
MSU Denver offers student-veterans like Gelston and reservists like Gartin a variety of support services. There is an active student veterans group and a Veterans Upward Bound program that provides fresher training through a core curriculum of subjects that prepare service members for college.
In the summer, the University piloted a veteran-specific orientation program for incoming students and intends to make it permanent, says Braelin Pantel, associate dean for student engagement and wellness. Her office, along with the Office of Career Services, sponsored a breakfast during the Fall Business Fair where employers offered advice to veteran job-seekers about the civilian market. And the University is interviewing now for a veteran and military student-support specialist, a temporary position lasting at least a year.
The Military Times places the University on its “Best for Vets: College” list for its programs, policies and resources for veterans, one of only three state institutions given recognition. Military Advanced Education put the University on its list of “Top Military-Friendly Colleges and Universities.”
Recognizing the contributions of veterans and offering them support, “is the right thing do to,” Pantel says. “As with all students we want to help them be successful and graduate.”
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