By Alexa Angelus
The shreds of an electric guitar and the beats of a drum entertained student veterans at USC's Russell House ballroom. The student veterans came to the event to meet new people who are also transitioning from military life to college life. It was sponsored by the USC Veterans Association.
This ballroom doesn’t look much like a combat zone for student veteran Courtney White, who traded her Marine uniform for books in August 2015. She says her transition to college was difficult.
“I was sleeping on the floor, eating Ramen noodles. It was a pretty interesting transition when you're trying to explain to people your life is put together and you go home and have no furniture. No nothing,” White said.
White was part of a ground combat integrated task force. She helped with machine gun testing for females in combat jobs. Now, she’s a freshman at USC.
“It’s a completely different experience coming to school. We’re a lot older, we’ve been through a lot of stuff and it’s hard to get back on track and get that degree,” White said.
The Student Veterans Association and the Bateman Public Relations team are partnering to help veterans like White get back on track and meet new people on campus. One of those new people is senior Bateman team member Sarah Markiewicz.
“They just really bring so many awesome things to the table and they’ve traveled the world and they’ve met new people and have all of these stories to tell. I think it’s important to get their stories out there and help them have a better college experience,” Markiewicz said about the student veterans.
Currently, there are 1,200 students at USC using their G.I. benefits. The Student Veterans Association on campus reaches out to 324 student veterans weekly through newsletters and events.
Student veteran Matt Bruner appreciates the efforts to help people like him, who have just transitioned from military life to college, meet new people.
"It's really nice that there's a Student Veterans Association here. Just because it is a big transition, I'm still getting used to it,” said Bruner.
“It’s just really cool to be able to be with the Student Veterans Association and kind of still have that comradery that you had with other service members who kind of know what you went through,” White said.
Getting a degree in public relations is worlds apart from White's days in combat. But events like "Vets and Pets," hosted by Student Veterans Association and the Bateman public relations team, help White and others like her find their own piece of home at USC.