Wilkes named military-friendly school for the third year in a row

Devoni Novak, Staff Writer

For the third consecutive year, Wilkes University ranked among the top 15 percent of Military-Friendly Schools in the nation for its dedication to aiding the success of veteran students.

With 55 veterans enrolled, Veterans’ Counselor Lt. Col. Mark Kaster explained the significance of Wilkes’ making the Military Friendly Schools List in G.I. Jobs Magazine.

“It’s a great honor,” Kaster said. “It shows that Wilkes has met many high standards to support veterans at many different levels.”

When considering which school to attend, “military-friendly” stands out to veterans and encourages them to pursue higher education. Marine Corps veteran Cassandra Mignot, a pre-physical therapy major, is one of those who has benefited from the veterans’ counseling program on campus. She said she was looking at four other schools when she decided Wilkes was the one.

Mignot chose Wilkes because of the services the institution offers to vets. Before coming to Wilkes, Mignot attended Penn College, a school that was not as accommodating to the knee injury she acquired while on active duty. As a school that values students that are military veteran, Wilkes has provided Mignot with convenient parking and her professors allow her to sit during three hour lab courses.

“Wilkes was a lot more military friendly.” Mignot said. “They have the yellow ribbon program which allowed me to go to a private school, not a lot of private schools offer that.”

As a yellow ribbon school, Wilkes makes an extra effort to aid veteran students. When tuition costs aren’t completely covered by the post 9/11 G.I. Bill, Wilkes picks up the remaining costs by splitting the remainder 50/50 with the Department of Veterans Affairs. These benefits can also be passed to a vets spouse and children.

Although all schools accept the G.I. Bill, the yellow ribbon benefits are not always adopted. According to Alex Magee, a Marine and president of Veteran Counsel who hopes to get into the pharmacy program, the added support is a big relief.

“For a lot of veterans, the yellow ribbon benefits are a huge reason for coming to such an expensive private institution,” he said. “That’s one of the big factors as to why I chose Wilkes.”

Magee is taking advantage of his GI bill and the yellow ribbon benefits and hopes to eventually get into the pharmacy program. He said joining the Marine Corps gave him the focus he needed to go back to school and get her degree.

“It’s one of those holes in my life that hasn’t been filled yet,” Magee said. “The Marine Corps definetly helped me focus; now I know which direction I want to go with my life.”

Magee feels that being able to use his military benefits to further her education at Wilkes is a great honor.

“Every day I wake up it’s almost a privilege because of everything I’ve been through and everything that I did in the military,” Magee said. “It is really nice to be able to come back and have the community give back to me.”

Wilkes is a guiding institution for veterans as they make the transition from military career to college student according to Kaster. He feels that because Wilkes provides yellow ribbon benefits, the school is genuinely committed to their vet students.

“I believe that hiring me (as veteran counselor) shows a very high level of commitment,” he said.

As veteran counselor Kaster feels his position is an opportunity to continue to serve his country.

“I spent 32 years in the military.” he said. “I always felt to serve our country was a great honor for me and in a way I am still doing that by helping the vets at so many different levels.”