Accepting the challenge
“As veterans, many of us have this desire to do things we think are hard and that challenge us because we know they make us grow, and they make us better and stronger people,” says student veteran Sandra Rollings. This junior athletic training major knows a thing or two about challenges, and that’s one of the reasons she enjoys NNU.
Sandra joined the army in 2005 and deployed for the first time in 2006 as a medic at the largest detainee facility in Iraq. As a young female, she didn’t shy away from challenges but instead faced them head on, requesting and being assigned to an infantry unit, for example.
Sandra pushed herself to develop her toughness but also worked to retain her compassion in the midst of war. While working as a medic, she listened to the Iraqis and tried to meet needs and build relationships whenever possible. “A lot of us wanted to leave good impressions and build relationships. There were certain encounters where they [Iraqis] did hate us, but they were forced to transform their perspectives based on their interactions with us,” she describes.
However, once a part of the community, Sandra soon discovered all that NNU had to offer to her not only as a veteran but also as a non-traditional student. She started at NNU in 2013, immediately after the birth of her second son, Cameron. At that time she was working 12-hour shifts at the VA hospital as a CNA in addition to going to school and managing a family (her husband, two sons and a step-daughter). She found the professors to be personable and understanding of her unique obligations while still expecting quality work.
“While my classes are harder, I feel like I have learned so much more and gotten so much more out of my classes here than when I’ve gone to other universities. The education we get for being able to use our GI Bill here is insane,” Sandra says.
Another formative experience at NNU for Sandra has been her involvement in the newly formed Office of Veterans Services. Sandra is the vice president of the Student Veterans’ Club. “One of our goals is to become more cohesive on campus and to become more a part of the campus community. We really want to work to integrate student veterans with the rest of the student body.”
NNU has made significant strides under the new Veterans Services in assisting vets through admissions and financial aid processes and helping them participate more fully in the life of the campus community. These efforts have earned NNU a significant recognition as a 2016 Military Friendly® School. Of the 1,400 schools designated as Military Friendly for 2016, NNU is ranked among the Top 25 schools for best Private Colleges and Universities, best online programs and best graduate programs.
Sandra says, “One of the most significant things I came out of the military with was the sense of pride and belonging and what it means to be part of a community.” She represents just one of the many veterans and military students and families who are choosing NNU and finding another community of belonging.
Support for special student groups like veterans often begins with financial provision from generous NNU donors. Whether through general contributions or support for specific scholarships, gifts to NNU make a difference in the lives of students. Visit nnu.edu/give to support student transformation.