For the first school year, HBU is combining its outreach to veteran and international students in one office. Located on the second floor of the Baugh Center, the Veteran and International Student Center provides resources for HBU students in these specific populations.
Shannon Bedo, director, and Aubrey Aldave, coordinator, work with students from recruitment and enrollment to graduation. At first glance, it seems the two groups are dissimilar, but they have commonalities, Bedo said. “There are so many federal regulations guiding both of them – veteran and international students both have extra needs as far as filing documents with the US government and navigating through the process of applying, registering and succeeding,” Bedo said. The assistance doesn’t end with their office, but translates across campus, where Bedo and Aldave work with faculty and staff members to ensure that needs and services aren’t lost in translation.
Another similarity between the groups is that the students often have different backgrounds and needs than their classmates. Veteran students are typically older than their fellow students, and have different life experiences. Likewise, international students, quantified as those who are at HBU on a non-immigrant visa, have significant adjustments to make in a new environment. The Veteran and International Student Center is especially welcoming, providing a living-room feel where students can study and talk with peers. The office also sponsors the two related student groups. The Husky Veterans Association is a point of connection for veterans, reservists and family members. The International Student Organization gives students an outlet for forming relationships, and serves as a launching pad for campus events like International Week.
Both groups of students ultimately merge into and add to the greater student body, Aldave said. “Whether they are working toward a bachelor’s or graduate degree, military veterans bring a distinct set of skills and experiences to the classroom. Their previous work experience lends context to what they are learning, and I have found that veteran students have a very high level of motivation toward success in their studies. Similarly, international students who come to HBU tend to be responsible go-getters who are eager to make the most of their time at HBU. They bring a diverse, global perspective into the classroom, and are able to participate in conversations differently as a result of their experiences.”
Bedo said, “Our vision is to make HBU the most welcoming environment that it can be, both to international students and veterans. We are able to counsel them, not only academically, but spiritually as well. We build those relationships. My number one goal is that they walk away with a relationship with Christ, or are strengthened in their Christian walk. I want the students to love HBU and to be successful for the rest of their lives. It’s such a privilege to be able to share the Gospel with the world from my office.”