University programs invite military veterans to find their place on campus
Eluterio Escamilla had a proud moment recently. It was late in the afternoon on a Friday – a time when many people have begun their weekend, either physically or mentally.
“I walked out of my office. My whole team was still there,” Escamilla said. “I told them, ‘You know it’s 5 o’clock, right?’ But they weren’t rushing home. I have a team that’s committed to helping veterans.”
Escamilla, Veteran Services Center director at Boise State, is a U.S. Marine Corps veteran. He grew up in the Central Valley of California, son of a farmworker and a certified nursing assistant. He enlisted straight out of high school.
“My dad had dreams and wanted something different for me,” Escamilla said. But he credits the Marines with readying him for college. The Vietnam veterans who trained him told him he read too much and should go to school. That inspired him to use his military education benefits, he said. A first-generation college student like many of the students he now serves, Escamilla left the Marines as a lance corporal and earned his degree thanks to the GI Bill.
An Open Door
Boise State supports its 1,200 student-veterans through the Veterans Student Support Services program within the Veteran Services Center on campus. It’s one of just 16 programs of its kind in the country.
The center helps student-veterans transition into university life and access their GI Bill educational benefits. It offers academic guidance and tutoring, a writing lab, advice on scholarships, career paths, and budget management.
“We all know that if students start on day one with the resources they need, their success rate increases,” Escamilla said.
Over the past year, 346 student veterans have earned certificates and degrees, at every level from associate degrees to Ph.D.s
“Myself and members of my team were influenced by people who said, ‘Hey, you can do more than what you’re doing now.’ So that’s one of our messages for veterans: If you want a different life, start at Boise State.” – Eluterio Escamilla, director of the Veteran Services Center and U.S. Marine Corps veteran.
More Broncos with military ties
In addition to the Veteran Services Center, Boise State is home to Army ROTC, Veterans Upward Bound – a TRIO program that helps ready veterans for college – and Military Programs, a branch of Extended Studies.
Military Programs work with students who are on active duty and those in the National Guard or Reserve. The programs allow students to attend Boise State in a way that fits their military schedules, including offering online classes and credit for prior learning. Military Programs served more than 300 students in 2021.
Boise State’s Military Tuition Assistance Promise Program fills the gap between federal tuition assistance and the cost of tuition. The promise program is available for eligible online degree programs. These programs are particularly suited for students who are deployed or who are serving overseas.
“Everything we do is around flexibility and accessibility,” said Sean Hunter, director of community educational outreach in Extended Studies, and an officer in the Idaho National Guard. This is a trailblazing partnership between Boise State and the military.”
He likened the partnership to workforce development.
“The military wants people with certain skills. We can provide them,” Hunter said.