Seizing the Opportunity
Union Institute & University is a private, nonprofit institution that offers undergraduate, masters, and doctoral degree programs. Since its inception in 1964, the university has provided distance-learning programs – which now combine online and classroom coursework with faculty attention. Union also provides brief residencies, small face-to-face classroom settings, and a hybrid model – all taught by more than 300 faculty/scholar-practitioners.
Union Institute & University is headquartered in Cincinnati. The university also has academic centers in Los Angeles, Sacramento, North Miami Beach, and Brattleboro, Vermont. Union educates adults around the world. Its enrollment stands at 1,500 students, and there are more than 15,500 alumni worldwide. The university is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
UNION AND VETERANS
The university has found that veterans make excellent students because their military training has instilled the characteristics of discipline, integrity, teamwork, loyalty, and confidence – qualities that are also needed to succeed academically.
Union recognizes and honors the sacrifices of veterans through its Veterans in Union program. A full-time veterans’ services coordinator implements a seven-part solution:
- A centralized on-site and virtual Veterans Center
- Personalized attention from veteran coordinators and program advisors
- Student services, including Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), academic, and writing support, and lifestyle-transition social services
- Consistent progress monitoring
- Monthly career-transition seminars
- Career coaching and employer matching
- Graduation and employment guidance
Union also offers scholarships and stipends to veterans. In 2015, the university received a $293,000 grant to reach out to low-income and underemployed veterans in certain geographical regions. The grant provides a $7,500 living stipend to veterans over a three-term period. To date, 15 veterans have received the stipend.
Union is a Yellow Ribbon university, and it accepts American Council on Education (ACE) and College Level Examination Program (CLEP) credits. It is listed on the U.S. Department of Education’s Eight Keys to Veterans’ Success site, and is part of a two-year independently funded agreement with the Cincinnati Veterans Affairs office for on-site Veterans Integration to Academic Leadership (VITAL) counseling services.
In addition, Union has joined the VA-sponsored Veterans Economic Communities Initiative (VECI), which is building a network of private and public organizations that offer resources for veteran education, career skills training, and employment. Other partnerships include the Ohio National Guard, area congressional offices, the Ohio State Military One Source/Inter-Service Family Assistance program, and the Tristate Veterans Community Alliance.
A VETERAN STUDENT | JASMINE FRAME
Jasmine Frame spent two years in the United States Army, separating as a private first class. She helped manage inpatient and outpatient mental health activities, and assisted with treatment.
The Army trained her as a mental health specialist 68x. She is now using that training in her civilian job as a psychology technician at Bassett Army Community Hospital in Fairbanks, Alaska. Her husband is active-duty Army, stationed at Fort Wainwright.
“I am giving back to my fellow soldiers,” she said. “Mental wellness for veterans and active-duty personnel is my goal. I let them know the struggles they are going through can be helped. Too many think problems are hopeless. There are about 22 suicides a day. If I can prevent one, I have done my job."
Before joining the Army, Frame did not see herself working in the mental health field. “I will be forever grateful to the Army for assigning me to the medical field,” she said. “I received nine months of excellent training. I received real-world and on-the-job training that is invaluable.
“For the first time, I was involved in something bigger than myself. I experienced people with different backgrounds and religions. The Army taught me to work as a team member. The Army’s seven core values are Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity, and Personal Courage. I strive to live those traits every day.”
Union Institute & University is helping Frame achieve her career goal of providing mental health counseling. “I am working toward my bachelor of science in social work,” she said. “When I visited the school’s website and learned about the Veterans in Union program, I knew this was the right place for me. The veteran coordinator walked me through the enrollment process. The advisor answered my questions immediately. They call me on a regular basis just to find out if I need anything.”
When the time comes to leave the military, Frame said to seize every opportunity. “The Army will offer training on the transition. Pay attention to the opportunities available.”
Her advice to transitioning/veteran military who are thinking about completing their education is to find a school that honors veterans. “Find a university that is committed to veterans’ success,” she said. “Union has a veteran coordinator who is passionate about helping veterans. She understood my commitment to my fellow veterans, my husband, and my child. I had to have flexibility in my schedule – and online classes.”
This article appeared in the May-June 2016 issue of Search & Employ Magazine