UNIVERSITY PARK, Pennsylvania — An anonymous donor has pledged $1 million to create a Career Services Endowment to support veteran Penn State students. The donation will allow the University to create and maintain a career counselor position dedicated to helping veteran students transition into post-graduate careers or graduate school.
“Being a military-friendly university has become an important part of Penn State’s identity, and we are deeply committed to supporting our veteran student body,” said Marcus Whitehurst, vice provost for equity. of education. “We recognize that student veterans have different needs as students than most of their peers at the University. The Career Counselor position this recent gift makes possible will greatly enhance our ability to meet those needs as our veteran students prepare for what comes after Penn State. We are grateful for the generosity and vision of the donor in creating this new endowment fund for our student veterans.
Penn State maintains a large veteran student population, with more than 3,500 students enjoying GI Bill benefits universitywide. It also has one of the largest Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) programs in the Big Ten and Northeastern United States, consisting of more than 600 officer candidates. As of 2022, more than 300 veteran students were enrolled at the University Park campus alone, and this campus hosts one of the Big Ten’s largest annual military appreciation events, the Military Appreciation Tailgate. In recent years, several Penn State campuses, including the online World Campus, have been recognized by various outlets as military-friendly institutions.
Penn State management has worked to improve the services and support systems available to student veterans, including through the creation of the Student Veteran Center, which opened in November 2019 in the renovated Ritenour Building. This 6,300 square foot center has consolidated and expanded services, support and activities for veteran students in a central location on the University Park campus.
“This is the single most important gift to support student veterans that we have received during my time at Penn State,” said Eugene McFeely, who has served as senior director of veterans affairs and services since inception. of the post in 2017. “The career counselor position the donation makes possible will have a tremendous impact, which I believe will be comparable to the creation of the Student Veterans Center itself.
McFeely explained that during their journey through higher education, veterans face two important transitions in their lives. The first occurs when they begin their college journey at Penn State, where they transition from the army as a military member to college as a student. The second transition occurs when they leave Penn State to pursue a career or earn another college degree at the next level.
“While we’re doing our best to help with the second transition, we don’t currently have the resources to adequately meet the need,” McFeely said. “This donation allows us to fill that gap, to create a position that is solely focused on helping our military students through this second transition. The new endowment will provide the funding not only to create this position now, but also to maintain it permanently, regardless of the budgetary pressures we may face from year to year.
The Guidance Counselor will be responsible for engaging military-friendly corporate partners, planning and hosting veteran-specific job fairs each semester, guiding veteran students on career opportunities, and helping them write their resume to help them translate their military experiences into skills that will resonate with civilian employers. The Advisor will also conduct outreach to the Penn State veteran community to foster mentorship, internships, and career opportunities, and facilitate events such as workshops focusing on topics such as resume writing, networking, interviews and salary negotiations.
“Our success as an institution is judged not only by whether our students graduate, but also by how well they are prepared for success in their careers or further education,” McFeely said. “This position is crucial in enabling us to prepare student veterans for the next phase of their lives, and I am very pleased that this donor has chosen to invest so generously in their future.”
With the record-breaking success of “A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence,” which raised $2.2 billion from 2016-2022, philanthropy helps maintain the University’s tradition of education, research, and service to communities across the Commonwealth and around the world. . Scholarships enable our institution to open doors and welcome students from all walks of life, support for transformative experiences enables our students and faculty to realize their vast leadership potential, and donations toward discovery and excellence help us serve and influence the world we share. To learn more about the impact of the donation and the continued need for support, visit increase.psu.edu.