Saturday, July 13, 2024

Warrior-Scholar Project Returns to William & Mary for Second Year

Warrior-Scholar Project students participated in a week-long humanities class at William & Mary. (Courtesy of Warrior-Scholar Project)

WILLIAMSBURG — Warrior-Scholar Project (WSP) and William & Mary partnered once again to offer a humanities academic boot camp to current active duty service members and veterans to expose them to the world of higher education.

Warrior-Scholar Project is a nonprofit based out of Washington D.C. that aims to provide information and exposure to higher education opportunities to service members and veterans. Throughout its academic boot camps, students are put through a week similar to the week before finals, where cramming and studying for hours takes place on college campuses across the country.

Students participating in the program are exposed to lectures and discussions, required readings, study groups, and writing workshops. They also must attend various discussion groups relating to issues facing veterans on college campuses.

Warrior-Scholar Project students were on campus at William & Mary from June 10 to June 15. In addition to studying, the students in the program live in the dorms and eat in the dining halls. They also have access to the library and other facilities on campus.

Richie Dolsen and Angela Newman are both students in the program at William & Mary. Dolsen is currently serving in the U.S. Army as an Army Ranger, while Newman is a veteran of the U.S. Air Force. Both were excited to be exploring the idea of attaining higher education post-service.

“It’s really nice to have a classroom with other veterans. It’s a big worry for those of us in the military. We have such different mindsets and different life experiences, but at the same time we want to appeal to our classmates and learn along with them. This program is nice because I’m learning with people with the same humor and similar lifestyles, so instead of not wanting to talk about being a veteran, here you can relate things to the military and everyone understands what you mean,” Dolsen said.

“I’m currently living in Alaska and while attending university there, I don’t get to meet a lot of veterans. All of my classes I’ve had, I’ve never had a veteran in my course. That’s been really difficult because it’s hard to connect with people and find the community aspect. Coming here, it’s been really comforting to connect with people that are like-minded. We all have a lot in common as far as being veterans and wanting to pursue higher education,” Newman said.

Dolsen currently plans to leave the Army in seven months and attend nursing school. After graduating, he ultimately hopes to attend PA school. Newman, currently enrolled in college in Alaska, ultimately hopes to become a licensed social worker.

Kiel Malate, a WSP alum, works with the organization as a fellow. Malate went through the program while serving in the U.S. Navy. While in the program, he was exposed to various schools he never dreamed of being able to get into. Now attending Columbia University as a computer science major, Malate still aims to give back to students in WSP.

“This program changed my life so much. When I was applying to schools, I really only thought I could go to in-state schools, I really thought that was my peak. While I was going through the program, my classmates were going to Harvard, Brown, Yale. I said, ‘why not me?'” Malate explained.

Malate spends time with the current WSP students as they attend classes. He assists them in working on their homework assignments, understanding the readings, creating essays, and helping in the day-to-day experiences of what WSP provides.

“Being able to tell my story and sharing with the current students what I’ve gone through is special. To watch them come in at the beginning of the week saying ‘I can’t write an essay’ and to see the shift about mid-week to them believing in themselves and then getting the thank you during our completion ceremony, it’s inspiring,” Malate said.

Warrior-Scholar Project hosts academic boot camps around the country. Currently-scheduled boot camps and more information on the programs can be found on warrior-scholar.org.

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