Ceremony Spotlights Commitment to Vets, Military Families

November 3, 2011

For Mary Baldwin University, it’s more than just a day to recognize men and women in uniform.

On November 10, the college will host a Veterans Day ceremony at its Roanoke regional center to honor veterans, including those who are students and Mary Baldwin graduates. The event also highlights a greater mission at the center: help service personnel-turned-students make the sometimes difficult adjustment to civilian life.

“Veterans benefit from the flexibility and accessibility of the Mary Baldwin Baldwin Online and Adult Programs,” said center Director Sharon Barnes. “Veterans enroll in classes in a variety of learning formats, including hybrid classes that meet at the center and classes conducted online. Personalized advising plays a key role in the adjustment from boots to books. ”

Recently, Barnes has seen a slight uptick in veteran enrollment; popular majors include Business for a Sustainable Future and Healthcare Administration as well as teacher licensure. Administrators believe that the proximity of the Veterans Affairs Office and more post-9/11 GI Bill scholarships will encourage veterans to explore their options at Mary Baldwin.

Among those former students is Jason Mazingo, an Iraq war vet who first met an Mary Baldwin representative at a college fair in 2008 (pictured at right). Thanks to the GI Bill, he earned a bachelor’s degree in history from Mary Baldwin in May and is now working at Rockbridge County High School as an instructional assistant while waiting to get his teaching license from the Department of Education.

“Mary Baldwin was a great fit for me because it allowed me to complete a majority of my classes from home,” said Mazingo, a Buena Vista native who served an 11-month tour as an Army sergeant in Iraq. “It was a more convenient choice for me.”

It has been reported that almost half of student veterans exhibit symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder and other issues, complicating their transition to student life. Colleges nationwide have begun a dialogue about ways to help these veterans succeed. Mary Baldwin developed a closer connection to the challenges faced by military personnel since forming the Virginia Women’s Institute for Leadership (VWIL) in 1993, according to Brenda Bryant, dean of students.

“Veterans and their families are special to us at Mary Baldwin University. When we established the Virginia Women’s Institute for Leadership, we became a community deeply involved in global conflicts and the challenges faced by service personnel,” Bryant said. “We not only appreciate their service, but we are prepared to provide the kind of personalized education that supports the whole student as he or she adjusts to college life and manages the transition from deployment and combat or discovers ways to continue an education while serving in uniform.”

The Veterans Day event is scheduled to begin at noon in Room 212 of the Roanoke Higher Education Center at 108 North Jefferson St. Guests include U.S. Rep. Bob Goodlatte and Brigadier General Mike Bissell, commandant of VWIL. There will be remarks, recognition of veterans, and a presentation of certificates to veteran students. A reception will follow.