Feature News

North Central College: A home for the military

Dec 09, 2016

From Green Berets to artillery and infantry to noncombat, support-centered soldiers, North Central College has every branch of military service represented in its student body.

For the fifth consecutive year, North Central is recognized as a 2017 Military Friendly® School. This means the College is selected as one of the top-tier institutions that provides the best opportunities for military service members and spouses.

For a small, private liberal arts institution comprised of more than 2,800 undergraduate and graduate students, that’s saying something. For Jorge Hernandez M ’17, it says that North Central College is a place where military students and veterans can successfully make the transition from “boots to books.”

“I’ll admit that when I came to North Central College after serving in the U.S. Army, it was the picturesque campus, ease of transportation and variety of campus amenities that initially drew me in,” said Hernandez.

“What I have unexpectedly discovered is the deep sense of community here among students, staff and professors—particularly some professors who are themselves veterans. North Central College is a place that allows me to live out my personal mission: to assist veterans and military-connected students’ transition from fighting wars to battling curricula. That’s why I decided on North Central to earn a master’s degree in liberal studies.”

Each November, North Central College is one of a few schools that turns Veterans Day into a full appreciation week.” Campus activities include lunch with College President Troy Hammond, a “moment of silence” and “Taps” on Veteran’s Day to remember those who lost their lives in active duty, networking and social time, halftime recognition during a football game, free tickets to fine art performances and so much more. Many of these activities are organized by Julie Carballo, who coordinates veteran and military student services. Student-veterans like Hernandez believe they can count on Carballo for consistent and unwavering support and guidance from the admission process to graduation.

“We’re not just a number, as I’ve heard others say about their schools,” said Hernandez. “There are a lot of combat vets at North Central College who understand one another and are eager to meet with military students. I haven’t encountered the ‘angry veteran’ stereotype here, and no one seems to feel weird about having me in class. Instead, I’ve been welcomed and encouraged to contribute as a leader—a message enhanced by alumni like John Stolz.”

“Student-veterans need to understand that what they did in the military will enhance any business they work for …,” said Stolz, a 1990 alumnus of North Central College’s M.B.A. program, who served for six years in the U.S. Navy. Stolz provides personal career counseling and, along with his wife, Karen, has established a veteran scholarship fund for students whose G.I. bill has expired.

North Central College participates in the V.A.'s Yellow Ribbon program, which means that 100 percent of tuition costs are covered for eligible veterans using the Post 9/11 GI Bill.

Veterans’ accomplishments are celebrated each spring at the College’s annual Hail & Farewell Banquet. At the 2016 banquet, Stolz gave each graduating veteran a challenge coin, which is a military tradition. “These are inscribed with three words: honor, commitment, courage. If one lives by these words across their career, they cannot help but be successful,” said Stolz.

North Central College recognizes the significant value that student-veterans bring to campus. Whether it’s participation in the SALUTE national honor society or accessing resources provided by the College’s Center for Student Success, student-veterans at North Central College gain valuable tools for a successful educational experience and skills for life.

This year, North Central welcomes the Student Veterans Alliance, an official chapter of the Student Veterans of America. “Student veterans at North Central know from their own experience here that North Central College is indeed welcoming to veterans,” said Carballo. “We appreciate their service to our country and what they bring to our campus and classrooms.”

By Stephanie Snyder ’15/M ’17