FSU Accepts "5 Star Challenge" in Support of Student Veterans
West Virginia’s public colleges and universities are pledging increased support for student veterans during events to be held next week through the state’s “5 Star Challenge” initiative, which launched earlier this fall. The Challenge, which calls on institutions to adopt a set of exemplary standards for supporting student veterans, is a tribute to the military tradition of issuing “challenge coins” to service members who embody the values and standards of their military units.
Fairmont State University’s coin exchange ceremony is planned for 1 p.m. Monday, Nov. 9, in the Falcon Center second floor Main Street area. Students, faculty, staff and the community are invited to attend. Jamie Summerlin, author of the book “Freedom Run,” has been invited to speak about his experiences. FSU President Maria Rose will officially accept the “5 Star Challenge” on behalf of the University from Dan Pasquariello, President of the Student Veteran Organization.
From 12:30 to 1 p.m. in the Falcon Center second floor Main Street area and following the ceremony, Summerlin will be available for a book signing. Copies of his book have been donated for student veterans and will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis in the Office of Veterans Services in the Turley Center prior to the event. For more information, contact the Veterans Services Office at (304) 368-7258.
On March 26, 2012, Summerlin, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran, started an improbable cross-country journey. In order to honor military veterans and raise funds for West Virginia-based Operation Welcome Home, a veteran’s facility in Morgantown, he would run coast to coast beginning in Coos Bay, Ore. After 100 days, 10 pairs of running shoes and 3,452 miles, he completed his journey in Rehoboth Beach, Del., becoming one of the few individuals in history to complete a true Ocean to Ocean run across America. Summerlin resides in Morgantown with his wife Tiffany and two children, Nicholas and Shayna. He currently serves as the President of the Board of Directors for Operation Welcome Home and is an inspirational speaker for business and professional organizations, schools, veteran groups and the running community.
All public undergraduate institutions in West Virginia have committed to accepting the challenge, which calls for 1) signed commitments from college and university presidents to adopt best practices and standards, 2) a focus on increasing access and affordability to higher education for student veterans and military service members, 3) increased academic support including priority registration for classes, 4) enhancing social networks for veterans and military service members on campus and 5) greater collaboration with community organizations working to meet the needs of military service members. A detailed outline of the Challenge and a list of challenge coin ceremonies can be found at http://cfwvconnect.com/veterans-education/, the state’s free college and career-planning web site.
According to 2015 spring enrollment data, more than 2,700 students are enrolled using Veterans Affairs benefits within West Virginia’s two-year and four-year public higher education systems.
“We are proud to announce that all public four-year institutions in West Virginia have accepted the ‘5 Star Challenge,’” said Dr. Paul Hill, Chancellor of the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission. “Their participation in this effort not only acknowledges a sincere commitment to meeting the unique needs of our student veterans, but also results in real policies that will provide tangible benefits to military service members who are pursuing higher education. By providing student veterans with services such as priority registration and building stronger support networks on campus, we are honoring their service to our country and equipping them with the resources they need to succeed.”
The “5 Star Challenge” is an initiative of the Office of Veterans Education and Training Programs within the Division of Student Affairs at the Commission and the West Virginia Community and Technical College System. In addition to issuing the challenge to campuses, the Commission and WVCTCS are committing to providing more resources to help student veterans navigate the higher education system and find support on campus and in the community.
For more information, visit http://cfwvconnect.com/veterans-education/. For more information about FSU’s event and services, contact the Veterans Services Office at (304) 368-7258.VeteransMaria RosePaul HillJamie SummerlinDan Pasquariello