UNF recieves military-friendly honor


By Madison Fantozzi

Jobs and Military Advanced Education magazines deemed UNF one of the top military-friendly schools in the nation for its second consecutive year.

These publications help military and Veteran students determine which schools offer the most benefits for them.

Two divisions of military life exist on campus – Military and Veterans Affairs and the Reserve Office Training Corps, both located in Fredrick H. Schultz Hall. The latter was reestablished with seven cadets in Spring 2009 and has grown to 100 students. Assistant Professor of Military Science and Primary MS II Instructor Captain John Glasco acknowledged the honor and rapid growth of the program.

“Success is based on the great military community surrounding us,” Glasco said. “We don’t need to recruit like the University of Florida [our host school] because we are already in a military-based city.”

With Naval Station Mayport and Naval Air Station both in Jacksonville, the city is a great hub for military activity.

Glasco said he recognized UNF’s campus as an optimal environment for physical training. UNF’s cadets’ average P.T. score is four points above the national average.

The cadets benefit from a staff including the top National Guard recruiter in the nation, Sgt. First Class Jonathan Preston, First Lieutenant and personal trainer Amber Fredericksen, and Glasco himself, who is an active duty officer.

“We are pleased to be here, it is a great campus to do what we need to do,” Glasco said. “And I think it will come full circle by next year. Each class is bigger than it’s predecessor, doubling each semester.”

An even newer addition to military life on campus is the Military and Veterans Affairs program. Approximately 900 veterans and 100 active duty students are enrolled at UNF. They can take advantage of its administrative office, computer resource center, group study area, tutoring, mentoring, and transition coach Ron Fulgencio.

Interim Director Ray Wikstrom discussed the program’s plans for the school year.

UNF Veterans Affairs and the Alumni Association are partnering to organize a club for alumni veterans, a Veterans Day event honoring UNF students is being planned for Nov. 10.

The program is attending a workshop known as College Ready Boot Camp along with eleven other Florida schools, which will provide feedback on previous practices and ideas for new ones.

“While nothing is finalized yet, events are being planned, and the boot camp will give us insight on best practices and lessons learned,” Wikstrom said.

UNF lacks three characteristics, according to Military Advanced Education’s annual guide to military-friendly schools. It does not participate in the Yellow Ribbon Program, provide scholarships specifically for military students and dependents, nor provide 100 percent online degree availability.

Its Yellow Ribbon-comparable tuition, assistance, and ROTC program ranked the university in the top 15 percent of 7,000 colleges, universities, and trade schools nationwide.

The Yellow Ribbon Program, a provision of the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2008, allows institutions to enter into an agreement with Veterans Affairs to fund Military student tuition. The institution can contribute up to 50 percent of expenses, which VA will match.

“We do not see our school joining the Yellow Ribbon Program in the near future, but it is something to look into when credit hours reach $250,” Wikstrom said.

Many military students still benefit from scholarship money. Maintaining their GPAs and receiving high PT scores ensure Army scholarship money.

“I have a scholarship from the Army paying for my tuition and books, and it is comforting to know that I will leave UNF with a career and debt-free. This is my second year in the [ROTC] program and I love it,” Junior Cadet Nick Silva said. “The training is demanding and the instructors and officers care about their students.”

When asked for his top reasons why UNF is so military friendly, Captain Glasco gave five.

“The university’s support, the campus, the caliber of students, the diversity of staff, and the city itself,” he said.

With this promising foundation and rapid growth, UNF’s military program may be wearing this honor for years to come.