By

Steven Mann CU Boulder veteran studentI'm currently in my senior year pursuing a major in mathematics in the College of Arts & Sciences, with a minor in Technology Arts & Media. Originally from Magnolia, Texas, I transitioned from active duty after a little over 5 years of active duty in the Marine Corps to CU Boulder in the fall of 2017 and am graduating this summer. Throughout my journey I've learned a lot about how to succeed as a Student Veteran and would love to share these tips on how to do so!

1. Meet your fellow Buffs

To feel included and truly a part of the CU Boulder community, you have to get out and meet your fellow Buffs. For me, one of my biggest concerns was figuring out how I was going to relate to people after the Marines. The thought of jumping into class and trying to make friends with total strangers wasn't something I was initially prepared to do. Lucky enough for me, I got involved with the Veteran and Military Affairs (VMA) office and was admitted to the first Summer Bridge Program for incoming Student Veterans. This was a program that the VMA put together to help students see what school was going to be like by hosting a two week "mini" semester to help us succeed in school. What I got though, was a group of friends that I could lean on, vent to, study with and otherwise start adjusting to life here at CU Boulder. Sharing the experience of transitioning from Active Duty to full time student has been much easier having people around me experiencing the same things.

2. Take advantage of your time here

There is so much available to you at CU Boulder, you'd be a fool not to squeeze out every drop of the resources you have available. Once I adjusted to life as a student, I started looking for any uncovered or untapped resources I had available to me as both a Veteran and a student. The logical step here was to get involved with the Student Veteran Association (SVA) and see what was going on. Shortly after seeing how active the group is and how many other Veterans we have here, I started getting much more active in the group and picked up a Work Study with the VMA as the Student Veteran Ambassador Program (VAP) Coordinator. This is a student led group that’s sole purpose is to smooth over the transition of new Student Veterans. Involving myself with the SVA has provided me opportunities to golf at the Boulder Country Club, watch the Buffs play from box seats, network with some incredible people and even fly to L.A. for the SVA National Conference!

3. Get to know your professors

I find it insane that professors hold office hours and don't see a single student walk in. You are here studying what you're passionate about and have access to an EXPERT in the field that is required to be available to you. I maintain a "use it or lose it" mindset about office hours and it has yielded some of the most interesting conversations I've ever had. For a group of students who are already older and typically carry a bit more life experience than their fellow classmates, its almost a guarantee you’ll connect well with and mutually benefit from meeting with your professors. It is not common that you get to meet with such a high caliber person, and they don't get many opportunities to hear a veteran's perspective.

4. Go on adventures

My decision to move to Colorado was 50% academic, 50% because of what the state offers. Don't spend your college years looking at the mountains through a window, grab some friends, pick a trail and go see what's out there! I always wanted to learn to fly fish, so my first spring here, I went and got a $40 set up off Amazon and started following creeks and streams in the mountains. In doing so, I've witnessed parts of Colorado I likely never would've seen without the new hobby taking me there. You may have even seen me fishing in Boulder Creek right by Pearl Street. Nothing better than hooking some brown trout then walking over to Pearl for happy hour!

5. Be a leader 

Every degree path will put you in positions to lead. Class projects, extracurricular activities, research and campus opportunities abound at CU and they all need people to take charge in varying capacities. Regardless of your role in the military, you learned effective leadership skills and traits, don't hesitate to continue to hone them here.