Join the Student Veteran Council and Recognize UChicago Veterans for Memorial Day (5/22), click to learn more
The University of Chicago created the Office for Military-Affiliated Communities to provide a new resource for prospective and current students, faculty, and staff, including those who serve in the United States military, veterans, and members of military families. OMAC also serves to support students affiliated with foreign militaries. The Office for Military-Affiliated Communities strives to serve as a central home for the University’s military-affiliated work, helping to amplify a range of programs, support services, and partnerships currently in place across UChicago.
New and upcoming initiatives from the Office for Military-Affiliated Communities include:
– The newly created Student Veteran Council hosted its first meeting in early April and will regularly convene a group of military-affiliated students from across the University to serve as liaisons and champion initiatives for OMAC. For more information contact Terrell Odom (email@example.com). This group will transition into the UChicago Student Veterans of America Chapter, which will work across disciplines and serve all student veterans on campus. The SVA’s mission can be found here.
– Memorial Day Programming will recognize US military veterans on May 22nd from 11:30-1:30 at International House (1414 E 59th Street), featuring former Congressional Representative and Bronze Star Medal recipient for meritorious service Patrick Murphy. For more information contact Terrell Odom (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Read this profile on Akya Gossitt, Master’s student in Clinical Social Work, discussing what these new initiatives mean to UChicago veterans:
Akya was born and raised on the South Side of Chicago, but coming to UChicago was never a part of her original plan for graduate school. She applied after a friend encouraged her to do so, saying, “I just did it to shut my friend up.” When her admissions letter came, she did not believe that she had gotten in; once, the news sunk in, she realized that having a UChicago degree would “speak volumes to employers and to others in the Veteran community. This degree shows my and Veterans’ potential to accomplish and do the things we set out to do.”
Akya started her Master’s in Clinical Social Work in Fall of 2018, and she has hit the ground running, both academically and also in terms of outreach. She has developed a strong community at SSA, saying that her cohort is “the best thing about UChicago.” In talking to Akya, it is clear that her passion for helping others, especially other veterans, remains a thread in everything that she does. She credits what she has learned at SSA with helping her to articulate what she wants to do once she graduates: “I want to travel and teach workshops on trauma, especially for veterans and their families. Trauma can show up in a variety of ways and it looks very different, depending on culture and society. I want to create a foundation for social change and to impact policy, and I will advocate for teen moms, homeless vets, and against discrimination.” And, she has already started down this career path by partnering with Terrell Odom in the Office for Military-Affiliated Communities to create change for veterans on-campus.
After attending the Veterans Day Memorial, hosted at SSA last year, Akya began to find ways to connect with other veterans at UChicago and to find the resources available to her. In March of 2019, Akya and Terrell attended the Ivy League Veteran Council or Military-Affiliated Students at Stanford University. There they were able to discuss the ways that universities like UChicago can better attract and retain veterans as students, the barriers that veterans face when deciding to attend both college and graduate school, and how to make the top graduate programs across the country more inclusive to veterans. Terrell brought this information back to UChicago and is incorporating it as a part of the mission of the newly formed UChicago Student Veteran Council.
Akya is proud of her time as an E4 specialist in the military as well as of her many other accomplishments, like being a mother to two boys and participating in an NEH grant-funded outreach program that facilitated conversation between veterans and non-veterans around fictional accounts of war and trauma. She believes that “you make your own experience” and is committed to creating spaces for the veteran experience both at UChicago and beyond.