After spending four years in the Marine Corps, veteran Nick Badgero was eager to come back to his home state of Michigan and pursue a degree at Central Michigan University.
When the Mio native and biology major first came to CMU’s campus in 2013, he was faced with a multitude of challenges due to his lack of awareness of the services offered by the university’s veterans programs. Once connected with CMU’s Veterans’ Resource Center, however, Badgero’s entire college experience turned around.
Today, Badgero is working with the Veterans’ Resource Center to ensure veterans — particularly those new to CMU — know of the university’s resources from day one.
“When a veteran is accepted at CMU, our office receives notice,” he said. “We instantly reach out to them and encourage them to visit us when they are on campus for orientation.”
Badgero said he would never be where he is today had it not been for the expanding support of the Veterans’ Resource Center.
“You have the resource center to help you with your academics, Student Veterans of America to help you network and build connections, and finally Peer Advisors for Veterans’ Education — PAVE — to pair a veteran with a veteran mentor who can really help you be successful,” Badgero said. “It’s great that the three programs can come together and work in such harmony.”
Last year Badgero took over PAVE, after having previously worked as a peer adviser for the program. His efforts have helped double the number of peers and peer mentors, and he said the program continues to gain traction every year.
CMU takes gold
CMU has been recognized by the Michigan Veterans Affair Agency as a gold-level veteran-friendly school. This is the first time the MVAA has recognized higher education institutions in Michigan for their commitment to serving veterans.
“CMU is committed to providing the support our veterans need to succeed in their education and professional pursuits, in Michigan and around the world,” Pete Ross, vice president of CMU’s Global Campus, said. “CMU has been providing educational programs and services to veterans for more than 40 years, being selected as a veteran-friendly school at the gold level by the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency is recognition of our excellence and continual enhancement of services, support, outreach and educational offerings to our veterans.”
The program recognizes institutions on a bronze, silver and gold rank based upon their commitment to supporting the needs of student veterans and dependents by offering veteran-centric services and programs.
To be ranked at the gold level, institutions must have at least six or more of these qualifications:
• On-campus veterans’ coordinator and/or staffed veterans center;
• An active student-operated veteran club/association;
• An established process for identification of current student veterans;
• An evaluation and awarding of credit for military training and experience;
• A veteran-specific website/portal;
• Monitoring and evaluation of student veteran academic retention, completion and graduation rates;
• Monitoring and evaluation of student veteran job placement rates.
Badgero believes the success of the VRC programs has helped keep CMU at the top of the list of schools where veterans can thrive.
“We are making a lot of big changes throughout our office and within our programs, and so far the fresh start has been great,” he said. “I think we’re succeeding in every aspect.”