Contact:
Katy Abel, Massachusetts Department of Higher Education
617-994-6932 (office) or 617-429-2026 (cell)
kabel@bhe.mass.edu

For Immediate Release
November 2, 2012

Massachusetts Student Veterans Encourage Fellow Vets to "Go Public!" At Community Colleges, State Universities & UMass

House Speaker DeLeo, Veterans Services Secretary Coleman Nee, Higher Education Commissioner Richard Freeland to Address Prospective Students

BOSTON – The Massachusetts Department of Higher Education today announced that Massachusetts community colleges, state universities and UMass campuses will host a dedicated GO PUBLIC! event for prospective students who are military veterans on Thursday, November 8 at 6 p.m. at Bunker Hill Community College.

The GO PUBLIC! program is part of a statewide series of events to promote the academic excellence and value of public higher education. This November event will feature three student veterans who will share their personal experiences in making the transition from military service to college life, and marks the first time that the entire public higher education system has united in a single, coordinated effort to promote its programs and opportunities directly through veteran-to-veteran information sharing.

The program will be hosted by House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo (D-Winthrop). Veterans Services Secretary Coleman Nee and Higher Education Commission Richard Freeland will also address students during the program.

"On behalf of the House of Representatives, I am proud to help let our veterans know about the educational opportunities that exist within our system of public higher education," House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo (D-Winthrop) said. "We have worked hard to make sure that our veterans services are the best in the nation and made important investments in our community colleges, state universities and UMass campuses. We want to make sure that, like the members of the Greatest Generation who took advantage of the GI Bill, our current veterans obtain the skills and schooling they need to thrive when they return from serving our country."

“Massachusetts is proud to lead the nation in serving our veterans,” said Secretary Nee. “As the new Post-9/11 GI Bill has taken effect, we have seen an explosion in our student veterans' population. Peer-to-peer interactions and veteran support organizations are critical to ensuring that these men and women perform as successfully in our classrooms as they did in protecting our nation."

“Our outreach effort has two goals,” said Commissioner Freeland. “We want to make sure that every returning military veteran knows about the outstanding programs and opportunities that await them at our campuses, and we also want them to know that the cost of their education will be fully covered at a public college or university. Massachusetts veterans should not have to go into debt and risk their financial futures in order to earn educational credentials, having already served their country.”

Fifty-eight percent of Massachusetts veterans using the Post-9/11 GI Bill currently choose to attend a community college, state university or UMass campus (see attached file for detailed enrollment information). Among them are the three students who will address prospective student veterans at the November 8th event:

Matthew Hobert, Bunker Hill Community College: Hobert, a native of Brighton, MA, is a U.S. Marine reservist majoring in business at BHCC. He served on active duty in the USMC from 2005 to 2011, including seven months in Afghanistan. As a participant in BHCC’s Learn and Earn internship program Matt was placed at State Street Bank, where he analyzed large and small investor web behavior during market luctuations.
Working through State Street’s Corporate Development & Global Relationship Management Department, Matt presented his findings to top bank officials.

Part of Matt’s adjustment from combat to campus has involved learning to accept civilian complaints about seemingly trivial concerns. “It’s the little things,” he says. “Like, I was just eating, sleeping and drinking sand and you’re complaining about what?

Daniel Leenhouts, Framingham State University: Leenhouts, a 26 year-old native of Franklin, MA, was a U.S. Marine Corps assistant convoy commander in Iraq who helped lead the transport of gear being moved out of the country. Now a business administration major at Framingham State University, he has been granted junior status because of credits earned for relevant military service.

“It’s quite a change going from having a leadership role with young people right out of high school to sitting alongside them in a college classroom,” he observes. “But Framingham State has been great. The school goes above and beyond to make sure veterans are taken care of.”

Lindsey Fairweather, UMass Boston: Fairweather, 29, is a native of Kingston, MA and one of very few women to serve in the U.S. Army’s 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team. Returning from Baquabah, Iraq in 2011 after serving as personnel manager of the 225th Brigade Support Battalion, she enrolled at UMB to pursue a graduate degree in human
services. Having overseen the welfare of 900 soldiers in combat, she understands the challenges that veterans face as they pursue educational and career opportunities.

“It’s such a change of pace and stress level,” she explains. “If you go 100 miles an hour for so long and then you slow down (to the pace of civilian life), you are constantly thinking, ‘I should be doing something.’ It can create a lot of anxiety.”

Also attending the November 8 GO PUBLIC! event at Bunker Hill Community College are admissions and veterans’ benefits staff to provide information to prospective students. The event is free and open to all U.S. military personnel and family members.

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Bunker Hill Community College is located at 250 New Rutherford Avenue, Boston, Massachusetts 02129 and is conveniently located at the MBTA Rapid Transit Orange Line’s Community College Station.