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By Laura St.Pierre, Staff Writer

The Student Veteran Success Summit for Professionals, attended by 73 participants across the state of Maine, took place virtually over a three day period in mid-January. 

This event, organized by the Director of Veterans Services Lorrie Spaulding and her graduate assistant and MSW candidate, Alison Nolan, was created in order to share knowledge about best practices happening in Maine that help veterans access and succeed at college, as well as to identify resources available to support this work and to build a community of stakeholders for ongoing collaboration. 

 The Summit brought together higher education professionals from schools and organizations across Maine and presented students with various keynote speakers who provided information and reach-out programs for Student Veterans. 

Don Wilkinson and Kelsey Bailey from Veterans Upward Bound (VUB) attended and conveyed VUB’s mission to aid Student Veterans. 

“VUB is a federally funded pre-college program that provides no-cost assistance to eligible veterans who wish to pursue a post-secondary degree, certificate, or licensure. VUB is designed to develop the academic and personal skills necessary for admission into the post-secondary program of the veteran’s choice,” they explained during the Summit. 

Students can find more information and referral forms on this program here.

Maine National Guard chaplain Col. Andy Gibson discussed military culture and reintegration issues that often occur as employers actively learn to understand some of the military’s language to help veterans fit into their new jobs. Students were given information and advice regarding different tactics to utilize when facing these challenges.

In addition to these guests, four student panelists from USM, UMaine School of Law, SMCC, and UNE took this time to outline and respond to questions asked by student veterans involved at their respective universities.  

Director of Academic Advising Beth Higgins presented on best advising practices, and Alison Nolan took a leadership role in the planning and execution of this summit by, among other things, leading an opening-day session, securing the participation of volunteers and student veterans from Maine colleges and universities, moderating a session, and working with student panelists to ensure all questions were answered.

The success of this Student Veteran Summit was a collective effort between multiple Universities in the state of Maine and the various guests who work daily to ensure Veterans are supported in their life after active duty. 

“This summit was a real success. I was so impressed with the number of professionals in higher ed who are committed to best serving the student veterans they work with. People demonstrated their commitment to student veterans by dedicating several hours in their week to learning about best practices in Maine. Overall I was very impressed with how this summit was executed and am proud of our work pulling it together!” Alison Nolan stated. 



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