Not sure what to study using your GI Bill? No worries! Some military affiliated students go into a degree program and discover their true calling while getting real world experience. That’s how it worked for Alyssa DeStefano, United States Marine Corrections Officer.
An Education + The Marines
DeStefano’s education started prior to joining the Marines. She majored in criminal justice and wanted to go into law enforcement. After getting her associate’s degree, DeStefano decided to go into the military to get real world experience in the field.
“Through the military and the corrections environment I came in contact with a lot of diverse individuals, a lot of whom struggled with mental health issues. I found myself more intrigued with the human mind and behaviors and decided to finish my undergraduate in psychology, as well as further pursue it with a masters.”
While stationed in Japan, DeStefano was briefed by the education department on military friendly schools broken down by state. She knew she would be relocating to the New Jersey area after separating from the Marines, so she explored those options first. She knew she needed to enroll at a university that had veteran friendly master’s degree options. It was from the list she received at the brief where she discovered the institution she would go to for her master’s.
Next Step: Master’s Degree
“Just about every college in the state (of New Jersey) was on the list for accepting the G.I Bill, but Rutgers University Camden was highlighted in bold for being in the top percentile for veterans. I was currently working on my undergraduate degree, but knew then that when I separated from the military that I wanted to apply to Rutgers for this very reason.”
Rutgers Camden Office of Military & Veterans Affairs
Knowing that she would use her GI Bill, DeStefano wanted to get a leg up months before her first semester at Rutgers began. That’s where their Office of Veterans and Military Affairs came into play, led by Campus Director, Fred Davis.
“I wanted to have everything prepared for the semester in regards to my benefits and the support I received from the Rutgers- Camden Office of Veterans Affairs made that possible. Their support was easily accessible, they answered my questions in a timely manner, and got me set up within the first contact. The office administrator Fred Davis invited me for a tour, guided by one of the student veterans that worked in his office. They made starting my school experience pain free, and also gave me the opportunity to meet fellow veterans, which gravely helped in the transition to civilian life.”
When asked if she would recommend Rutgers-Camden to other student veterans, DeStefano responded, “Yes absolutely!” She then went on to highlight the networking events, available scholarships, and resources all tailored to veterans in all aspects of life.
Not only is Rutgers-Camden supportive of the military lifestyle, but it is arguably one of the most well-prepared military friendly universities. Their student veterans speak very highly of the well-rounded support they receive not just for academics, but in their personal and emotional lives as well. (Connect with Fred Davis, the Campus Director of the Office of Military & Veterans Affairs, to learn why Rutgers Camden is ranked so highly time and time again as one of the top veteran friendly universities in New Jersey.)
Life After Graduation
After graduation, DeStefano plans to continue working within the veteran community. “I would like to contribute to improving quality of life in veterans, whether it be through mental health, counseling, or aiding them in finding other resources they need to transition and fulfill their life goals outside of the military.”
Connect With Rutgers-Camden
Does Rutgers-Camden sound like a place where you could see yourself thrive? Don’t just take Alyssa DeStefano’s word for it, connect with their campus today and see what they can do for you!