Over the past few months, I have had the chance to share my story with veterans who are still deciding what to do after their time in service. Interestingly, they all asked me the same question that I asked myself before attending Warrior-Scholar Project(WSP) at Yale University: do I have what it takes to do well in college?
I started the Transition Assistance Program (TAP) with a transcript showing that I shouldn’t have graduated from high school, and the barriers I faced as a first-generation immigrant indicated that my prospects for a successful academic career were grim. When I applied to WSP at Yale, I wanted to have two weeks off while exploring New Haven and the prestigious school. But, I had doubts that a two week course would be able to prepare me for college. Nevertheless, with abundant excitement, I entered the classroom on the first day.
When they described WSP as an academic boot camp, I thought it was a bit of an exaggeration. In the same way that drill sergeants challenged my physical and mental discipline during basic training, WSP taught and showed me how to read a hundred pages of difficult books in a day. Moreover, tutors from the Yale writing center and other WSP staff would review my writing and would not let me leave the room until they were unable to spot any grammatical errors or poorly phrased sentences in my paper. Though I knew as I began the course, that WSP was a great resource and an invaluable opportunity for transitioning veterans, I was intimidated by the intense workload and frustrated by my poor academic preparedness.
But there was one moment that shifted my mindset. One of the guest lecturers shared his secrets of reading any book in ten minutes. When he asked for volunteers to try his methods, I raised my hand hoping to prove how flawed his methods were. And yet, I was able to answer all his questions about the book, like the other veterans in the program had been able to do. Not only did this seemingly small accomplishment prove my ability to perform well academically, but also it silenced the relentless doubt in my head: maybe I do have what it takes to do well in college.
WSP’s main role is to show veterans that their military experience and character traits they have developed are invaluable resources and they can’t be taught in the classroom. By completing a rigorous curriculum and being taught by exceptional staff members from top schools, attendees can learn how to apply the same discipline and diligence from their military career to the classroom. Most WSP participants graduated from the program with complete confidence that they have what it takes to do well in college.
Your DD-214 is a testament to your perseverance and hard work, and I’d like to encourage you to continuously apply that same determination in the classroom while pursuing a college diploma. WSP will equip you with the right mindset and tools to prepare you for success as you embark on a new journey as a student veteran.