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Meet Vinson Usher

SVA Month of Heroes SMALL09.jpgAge: 45

Year and major: Graduate student/EMBA

Hometown: Chattanooga Tenn.

Branch/Rank: U.S. Navy/Cryptologic Technician Maintenance

Service: 6 years; one tour of duty, member of the Honor Guard, teacher at the Airbase Academy for Homestead Air force Base special needs children in 2nd and 5th grade.

Tell us about your service experience. While in the service, we were subjected to the most devastating Hurricane at the time: Andrew, in South Florida. Homes were destroyed and the base was left in turmoil. Everyone banded together and did outdoor cookouts to keep the meat from spoiling and shared generators to bring lights and warmth to those without. It felt like one big happy family instead of separate entities trying to survive. Veteran pride and commitment was shown, and it’s a very fond memory I still treasure and share today.

What are some of your memorable experiences in college? My most memorable moment was first meeting other veterans at the school during a Student Veterans of America meeting. We gathered around before and after class, sharing old enlisted stories from serving in the Navy.

The best story was the expectation of boatswain mates to not be as educated as other service members and then finding out how much they do know to keep the ship running efficiently as well as in maintaining order in times of general quarters.

Any favorite classes? I have enjoyed my finance class taught by Dr. Robert Boylan. He took the time to make sure we understood the information and how it relates to our real-world experiences.

Tell us about JU’s role in your transition to civilian life. JU allows access to the bookstore and enables me as a student to seamlessly acquire the items necessary to be a success in school. The SVA also provides a sense of camaraderie with others who know what you have been through and how to handle difficulties associated with that. I was able to speak with someone about the loneliness shared in the military when, because of your clearance, you are often segregated from the rest of the crew. The conversations really helped me see things from a different perspective. In addition, there are many functions on campus to aid with job search and employment. One other thing that stands out is the effort made to get alumni to come back and visit the campus, thereby providing access and exposure to people for networking purposes.

What sets JU apart? JU welcomes veterans, and it shows with the programs available. The access for military conversations and the presence of military personnel on campus and as teachers allows veterans to feel at home and within a comfort zone. In addition, I completed my GMAT and had offers to go to other colleges, but chose JU because it was the only college that made me feel accepted and treated like a person instead of a number. I think JU takes the time to make staff and faculty available and avoids standoffish behavior.

What might surprise others about you? Probably the most surprising thing about me is that as busy as I am, I have taken time to be as involved on campus as much as I have.

For more about JU’s programs and services for student-veterans, visit http://www.ju.edu/VA and http://www.ju.edu/registrar/Pages/VA-Information.aspx.