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ASU reaches record numbers for veteran student enrollment

ASU's Pat Tillman Veterans Center offers many opportunities which contributes to the increasing population


Steve Borden, director of the ASU Tempe Pat Tillman Veterans Center, poses for a photo at the Pat Tillman Veterans Center in Tempe, Arizona, on Monday, Nov. 26, 2018.

The Pat Tillman Veterans Center, along with other support organizations at ASU, plays a role in drawing more veteran students into the University. As a result, ASU has reached a record number of military affiliated students.

Steve Borden, the director of veteran services for the Center, is a retired Navy captain who served for 29 years.

Borden said that there are currently just over 8,400 veteran students enrolled at ASU, up 16 percent from the fall 2017 semester.

He said he thinks the Pat Tillman Veterans Center plays a crucial role in the increase in military affiliated students at ASU. 

"The Pat Tillman Veterans Center is the central location for coordinating assistance and resources for the military affiliated population," Borden said.

This includes research opportunities and helping veterans manage the security clearances necessary to do research at outside facilities, Borden said.

“The community of veterans continues to grow, and so we're always looking for new relationships with opportunities that are available at different schools and colleges at ASU," Borden said.  

Paul LePore, an associate dean for the Institute for Social Science Research, said ASU offers in-state tuition for all veterans or military-affiliated students regardless of where they are located. 

ASU also provides online degrees for military-affiliated students.  

"It is one of the reasons why I think veterans are attracted to the programs that we have," Lepore said. 

LePore also said that the policies ASU has in place, from tuition policies to how the students are advised and supported, is what makes the university such a military-friendly school. 

“Their job is to make sure the transition from active duty military to the standard of being an undergrad or grad student possible," he said. "The advising that they provide can be very specific to issues that veterans will face like managing GI Benefits." 

Michelle Loposky, an assistant director in the Pat Tillman Veterans Center and an Army veteran who served as a medic for four years, said she wants the students' experience to be "transformational and not one that’s transactional."

She said many of the students deal with some degree of transition, and the Center focuses on supporting and aiding them through their situations while trying to integrate them into the school.

Loposky also said the Center aims to help the students in school and to also prepare them for whatever they aspire to do once they graduate.

Loposky said that many veteran students are inspired to succeed by the namesake of the Center, the late Pat Tillman, and that his name holds a lot of weight to the them.

"He was a very unique individual who was very much this idea of an excellent mindset where you do your very best in everything that you do," she said. "That's your attitude, and then you also encourage others to do their very best."

She said the Center tries to get students to work toward this excellence mindset. 

"We want to dismiss the stereotype that our student veterans, or veterans in general, are either homeless or heroes. They’re not, they are just like everybody else who lived a certain life who come back and want to continue serving and do better for themselves," Loposky said.

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