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Meet the Students


Jerome Austin

Your environment is exactly the way you construct it. If you don't put in the work, others will construct your environment without you in mind.

Area of Study
Spanish and Business Management

Military Service
Marines, Linguist/Intel Analyst 2007-2012

To what degree does the GI Bill cover your school expenses?
When managed well, your Post 9/11 GI Bill can cover all expenses. My tuition, housing, food, and fuel costs are all covered by the housing allowance I receive.

What prompted you to return to school?
I returned to school because I believed that education was the key to having a future. It's a risk to leave the reliability of military work, but I was attracted to the idea of being in control of the direction of my life.

Was adjusting to campus culture a challenge after military life?
It is a challenge in the sense that finding others who have a similar experience is somewhat difficult. You cannot carry over your old attitudes that you developed in the military unless you are willing to translate them into a context that is palatable to the non-military world. It helps to have fellow vets help you with this, and while there are resources to help veterans transition, one should always be prepared to make the switch under less-than-perfect circumstances.

What has your experience been like at University of the Incarnate Word?
Starting school just out of the military was strange at first. It was like being caught between two worlds and suddenly a foreigner in both. When I realized that your environment is exactly what you make it, I started to keep an eye out for veterans at the school I attended and we started to form a network of our own. So there's really few reasons why you shouldn't have a more informal version of the support system we all enjoyed in our respective services.

Do you believe your military experience has made you a better student?
I believe the structure of life in the Marine Corps made me more receptive to training, it taught me how to make the most out of training even when things do not exactly go as planned. I also learned the value and the advantage of organized and punctual habits.

What advice do you have for veterans returning to school?
1. Find a veteran who has gone to school at least a semester ahead of you and ask them to show you the ropes on campus using language you are familiar with. 2. Organize your documents, records, and belongings to help you stay on track. 3. Find living accommodations nearby at a reputable property. 4. Do not isolate. You will be surprised how many people understand your challenges if you communicate calmly. At times you my feel like pushing everyone away, but this is the worst possible mistake you could make.

Additional Comments
There are more resources out there for veterans than there has ever been, but your most valuable resource is the human resource. Find your team, build it, tend to it, and expand it. Make the path easier than it was when you found it. Our success should only be defined by the prosperity of the weakest among us. So, keep an eye out for those who struggle silently, both military and civilian and both student and worker.
 


Cierra McGill

"At the end of the day, that's what it's all about: taking action. Without action, the best intentions in the world are nothing more than that: intentions." -Jordan Belfort

Area of Study
MBA International Business

Military Service
Other, Dependent

What prompted you to return to school?
Graduating from college was always something that I never thought twice about. I was taught at a young age how important your education is and how a degree would be your ticket to a successful career. Having educational benefits to cover the cost of tuition just guaranteed how much of a reality it would be to be able to go to college. Money is usually the factor preventing people from attending college but having military benefits to cover the finances eliminates veterans from being in that predicament.

What has your experience been like at University of the Incarnate Word?
I love it! Coming from Texas A&M, a large public university, to UIW, was definitely strange because now professors knew me by my first name, they take attendance, and people actually talk to each other in class. I went from an auditorium of 500 students to a small personal classroom of on average 20 students. UIW also offers so many study abroad opportunities that I was fortunate enough to take advantage of and travel to places like France and China.

Do you believe your military experience has made you a better student?
Absolutely! Being raised in a military family instilled discipline in me at a very young age. I also learned how important it is to be respectful and the value of education.

What advice do you have for veterans returning to school?
It is a completely different world than the military but your education is worth it. Your educational benefits are available to you, so why not use them? The majority of veterans returning to school that I have met, absolutely love the college atmosphere especially at UIW where your resources are unlimited and everyone is on your side. With San Antonio being a military city, there are a lot of veterans attending school here and many opportunities to meet people and share your stories.
 


Roberto Olivas (Oli)

"If you aren't first, you're last.” -Ricky Bobby | "Git'r'Dun." -Larry The Cable Guy

Area of Study
History and International Relations

Military Service
Marines, Intelligence Analyst 2006-2011

To what degree does the GI Bill cover your school expenses?
It covers all of my expenses. If my classes exceed the required amount then the institution helps me with the rest.

What prompted you to return to school?
The reason I started school after exiting the Marine Corps was that I had promised my mother that I would obtain a degree. Going to the University of the Incarnate Word has allowed me to fulfill my promise to my mom as well as opening new opportunities in new career fields.

Was adjusting to campus culture a challenge after military life?
Starting school was hard, not in the sense of going to class or doing homework. It was being social and trying to get projects done with classmates. Adjusting to campus life was another hard part; such as having more free time than you know what to do with yourself. It is more than a one-month transition phase, it takes about five to seven months to fully grasp and understand the college lifestyle.

What has your experience been like at University of the Incarnate Word?
It was hard at first since I was new to this environment. I had a great suit-mate that helped me transition to civilian life better. From that point on, the university experience has been amazing. There are low times with classes and there are high times but I wouldn't change them at all.

Do you believe your military experience has made you a better student?
It has in the sense that it keeps me focused and dedicated to my ultimate goal of graduating. Without the discipline that the Marine Corps provided, I would have left the university life and gone into the private sector.

What advice do you have for veterans returning to school?
The best advice I can give to returning veterans to school is to be involved on campus. Everyone says it at orientation; the fact behind that is that it is true. You experience more with clubs and class outings that you wouldn't experience in your platoon.
 


Evan L. Alvarez

“Your life does not get better by chance, it gets better by change.” –Jim Rohn

Area of Study
MAA Organizational Development

Military Service
Navy, Master at Arms 2005-2009

To what degree does the GI Bill cover your school expenses?
The Post 9-11 GI Bill covers all of my tuition and universal fees. I received my undergraduate degree and I have no debt from student loans thanks to the GI Bill. I am now pursuing a graduate degree with my remaining GI Bill and I am tremendously pleased at how far I have gotten in school without having to pay anything.

What prompted you to return to school?
I heard that the new Post 9/11 GI Bill would cover school costs and give me a monthly housing and supplies stipend. That is what really got me thinking about returning to school. All I had to do was apply online and the VA would let me know what percentage of benefits I would receive. That sounded easy enough and it was.

Was adjusting to campus culture a challenge after military life?
It was definitely different because I didn’t have to walk around saluting. I had class one early morning and I heard music in the distance and actually stopped for colors. It took a little while to get into the swing of things on campus. Eventually I relaxed and would walk around with my hands in my pockets.

What has your experience been like at University of the Incarnate Word?
I can honestly say that it has been great. I found it easier than I thought to talk to my professors. There were plenty of programs in place to help all students, not just veterans, so I got to meet new people and form new friendships. The school would have a Veterans Day celebration every year and honor all of us who have served. I have enjoyed my time here.

Do you believe your military experience has made you a better student?
In the military, you learn how to manage time fairly well. That played a large part in getting my homework done and getting good grades on most of my assignments. Also, the mutual respect that was instilled in me in the military helped me relate to other students and faculty.

What advice do you have for veterans returning to school?
Do it--there has never been a better time. Who knows how long the VA will offer all of these great benefits to people getting out of the military. Furthering your education is always a good option for anyone of any age. It may be difficult at first, but you can definitely do it if you put your mind to it and dedicate yourself.

Additional Comments
The GI Bill does not only cover college degrees that apply to your job in the military, you can study almost anything you have an interest in.
 


Ruben Deleon

"Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up." -Thomas Edison

Area of Study
Nutrition

Military Service
Air Force, Aircraft Mechanic (F-15) 2003-2009

To what degree does the GI Bill cover your school expenses?
Incarnate Word participates in the Yellow Ribbon Program, so the GI bill covers 100% of my tuition. I also receive money for books, as well as the BAH for my area.

What prompted you to return to school?
I had always wanted to earn a degree. I could have went in my off time while I was in the military, but I was too focused on the mission to think about my personal goals. So when my enlistment came up, I saw it as an opportunity to pursue my personal goal of a Bachelor's degree.

Was adjusting to campus culture a challenge after military life?
Definitely. Working for seven years in the military and then transitioning to college was a drastic life change. I had difficulty adjusting from working 12 hour days to being able to decide my schedule, and I had a lot of extra time that I did not have before. It was an adjustment when realizing school was my job now and it still might be 12 hour days but most of it is at home. Bringing “work” home was a huge change. Distractions are everywhere.

What has your experience been like at University of the Incarnate Word?
My experience at UIW has been incredible. Everyone at the university has been so helpful and friendly. University of Incarnate Word has been very helpful in helping me understand my veterans benefits, as well as helping me through registering, guidance, and the whole college experience. They really understand their students' needs.

Do you believe your military experience has made you a better student?
My military experience has made me a better student. It has shown me the value of education, as well as taught me discipline and time management.

What advice do you have for veterans returning to school?
The advice I would give to veterans returning to school is that the hardest part is finding courage to go back to school, choosing a major, picking classes, and filling out the paperwork. But once you are in class, it is all downhill from there. The hardest part of college is getting started.
 


Kevin McCollom

“Never too old, never too bad, never too late, never too sick to start from scratch once again.” -Bikram Choudhury.

Area of Study
Interior Environmental Design

Military Service
Air Force, Personnel Specialist 1984-2005

To what degree does the GI Bill cover your school expenses?
I’m a 100% eligible chapter 33 student and the GI Bill covers all of my tuition and fees. Also, my school, a private non-profit university, participates in the Yellow Ribbon Program, which pays for any costs over the national cap.

What prompted you to return to school?
I’m like a lot of GIs in that I have an incredible amount of college credit through evening classes and military experience, but no degree to show for my efforts. Coupled with the fact that my career field (personnel specialist/HR generalist) is shrinking due to automation and the movement towards web enabled self-help applications. Because of the monthly housing allowance and the annual book and supply stipend, the Post 9/11 GI Bill enabled me to afford to go back to school to pursue a new career.

What has your experience been like at University of the Incarnate Word?
Fantastic! UIW is a very military friendly school and the military culture of San Antonio definitely is felt on the campus. The UIW Veterans Service Center staff are top-notch and led me step-by-step through the process. They are always there to help, answer questions or just lend a sympathetic ear.

Do you believe your military experience has made you a better student?
One of the most invaluable skills I learned in the military was to listen to instructions. Far too many of my classmates hear the assignment but fail to listen to the faculty members directions on how to do the assignment.

What advice do you have for veterans returning to school?
Ssssllllloooow down and smell the roses, coffee, mid-term sweat…whatever. We in the military are taught to go, go, go. Many of my contemporaries are still in that mindset and don’t take time to enjoy what other activities are offered on campus such as events, trips, guest speakers, professional organizations, etc. 
 


Jeffrey Oliver

"When we enter college, we enter with our current level of knowledge. As we gain more information, we tend to change our minds." - Robert Sosa

Area of Study
Criminal Justice

Military Service
Coast Guard, Senior Chief Petty Officer 1983-2006

To what degree does the GI Bill cover your school expenses?
University of the Incarnate Word is a private university. The GI Bill pays for my tuition, fees, and gives me a paycheck every month.

What prompted you to return to school?
I had been out of the civilian work force for 26 years and realized that it had changed significantly since 1983. I also realized that I needed more than a high school diploma to be competitive.

Was adjusting to campus culture a challenge after military life?
As an older student, I expected to be treated differently. However, both the staff and the students of Incarnate Word gave me a warm welcome.

What has your experience been like at University of the Incarnate Word?
The staff made the entire admissions process so simple that it was easy to choose UIW over other schools in the area.

Do you believe your military experience has made you a better student?
The United States Coast Guard instilled in me honor, integrity, and devotion to duty. These qualities are essential and demanded of all college students.

What advice do you have for veterans returning to school?
Don't be afraid to take the challenge. The hard work and discipline that contributed to your success in the military will also contribute to your success in college.

Additional Comments
Returning to school is no easy choice for any veteran; however, combining your military experiences with a college education will make you highly marketable for employment in the civilian world. UIW is a private university that was founded on strong christian principles and values. A college degree from University of the Incarnate Word will prepare you for the challenges that you will face in leadership outside the military. 
 

Meet the Students

View bios, feedback, and real-life school experiences from a few of UIW's current Veteran and dependent students.

Best for Vets

UIW is proud to announce its selection as one of the best universities in the U.S. doing the most for military veterans by Military Times.

Military Friendly

University of the Incarnate Word is proud to be a 2015 "Military Friendly" University. No proctored exams and full credit for military service.

Online or Classroom

You need the flexibility of courses that will fit your busy schedule. Our programs offer online, classroom, or blended learning options.