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Wayne State's student veteran center expands to meet growing enrollment

Legendary American folk musician Sixto Rodriguez scheduled to attend

September 8, 2014

The military veteran student population at Wayne State now tops 600 -- the most of any public university in Michigan -- and continues to grow as more men and women in uniform return home. This fall semester alone, 175 veterans were admitted to the university. 

In an effort to continue its commitment and support for veterans, the university recently reopened its newly expanded and renovated Student Veteran Resource Center (SVRC) -- just in time for the beginning of fall semester. 

A ribbon-cutting ceremony will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 11, at the SVRC, located in the Student Center Building, suite 687, on the main campus. Wayne State University President M. Roy Wilson will be offering remarks.

Preceding the opening ceremony at 10:28 a.m., a brief 9/11 remembrance ceremony is scheduled in front of the flags at Gullen Mall. 

Legendary American Folk musician Sixto Rodriguez is scheduled to attend the events. Rodriguez, a 1981 Wayne State University graduate with a philosophy degree, and recipient of a Doctor of Humane Letters from WSU, was profiled in the Oscar-winning documentary "Searching for Sugarman." 

The SVRC includes nearly 3,000 square feet of space dedicated to assisting veteran students as they transition from military service to civilian life and higher education. Included in the space, which has an additional 850 square feet, are soundproof group study rooms, a quiet study area and a large room designed to offer a recreational area for veteran students. 

Patrick Hannah, resource center manager, Wayne State alumnus and U.S. Marine Corps veteran, was instrumental in both the creation of the Student Veterans Organization and the current center.  

"Before we had our own center, we would meet at various places, but we really needed a place to call our own, where our veterans felt comfortable meeting and socializing," says Hannah. "But more importantly, we needed an environment that promoted academic success and respect for one another. The resource center's new look is a visual example of Wayne State University's commitment to its veterans." 

Through Wayne State's Office of Military and Veterans Academic Excellence (OMVAE) and the SVRC, students have access to tools that assist them in both their academic success and transition from military to civilian life -- a journey Hannah calls "from uniform to student."  

OMVAE offers academic advising, tutoring, mentoring and assistance completing the daunting paperwork required to access federal veteran education benefits. 

Wayne State student veteran William Sommerville, 30, enrolled at the university in 2011, just two months after completing eight years with the U.S. Army and a deployment in Afghanistan. The Oakland Township resident knew immediately that the university was the right place for him. 

"I was happy with the campus environment. This was the first time I felt a connection -- being among a collection of minds (veterans) in the same place supporting each other. I knew that Wayne State sees value in veterans," says Sommerville. 

As Sommerville embarks on his senior year as a psychology major, he's hopeful that he can "keep up the legacy" of helping student veterans -- a legacy he says Wayne State has demonstrated by its support and commitment to him and his fellow veterans.

For more information about OMVAE visit: omvae.wayne.edu.

Wayne State University is a premier urban research institution offering more than 370 academic programs through 13 schools and colleges to nearly 28,000 students.