Texas A&M partners with nonprofit to host virtual academic boot camp for student veterans

Two-week program began Sunday and will run through July 2
Updated: Jun. 20, 2021 at 7:53 PM CDT
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COLLEGE STATION, Texas (KBTX) - A two-week academic boot camp began Sunday for veterans transitioning from active service to life as college students.

The program is hosted by a nonprofit called Warrior-Scholar Project that’s partnering with Texas A&M and other universities across the country. WSP launched its first boot camp at Yale University in 2012 and is now in its 5th year partnering with Texas A&M.

Transitioning from military service to life at a large four-year university can be tough, even intimidating, for some veterans. It’s why current Texas A&M student veteran Robert Liu signed up for a WSP academic boot camp back in 2018. The WSP says the camps are designed to help student veterans acclimate to civilian life and successfully complete undergraduate programs.

“A lot of times when enlisted veterans especially think about school, we don’t really understand what it is, in a way,” Liu said. “This academic boot camp kind of simulates a finals week at a university.”

Liu, who will begin his junior year at A&M in the fall, participated in the University of Notre Dame’s WSP boot camp three years ago, but now he’s a Warrior-Scholar fellow helping as a mentor with the A&M program and a few others. Boot camps are offered in the fields of humanities, STEM, and business.

The curriculum is taught by faculty members of the school where the program is being offered. The WSP says this year’s A&M program focuses on humanities courses in analytical reading and academic writing before switching to a STEM course that explores topics like cryptography.

“It’s a pretty jam-packed schedule for a week or two,” Liu said. “When you complete that, it kind of feels like, hey this is doable.”

Liu says the Warrior-Scholar Project really does change lives. He points to the networking, new friends, and experience he gained through the program he completed. Without his boot camp experience three years ago, Liu doesn’t know if he would’ve had the confidence to attend a school like A&M.

“I would never really think about applying to Texas A&M or any of the bigger four-year institutions,” Liu said. “It would either take me longer, or I would’ve just stayed in community college and started off there.”

It’s one reason why Liu wanted to give back to the program and those who enroll in it by becoming a WSP fellow.

“[The fellows] went through it themselves, and they truly do care. They want to pass that knowledge and experience to newly transitioned veterans or veterans who are thinking about going into academia,” Liu said. “I just want to do the same thing for my fellow veterans.”

WSP’s boot camps are free to current and former enlisted service members. Since WSP began its partnership with Texas A&M, 61 veterans have attended the academic boot camps taught by Aggie faculty members.

In total, WSP has helped more than 1,400 veterans get more confidence tackling higher education, and the program has expanded to 21 of the country’s colleges and universities. The nonprofit says 90% of its alumni have completed or are on track to earn their college degree, which is 18% higher than the national veteran average.

Liu encourages all veterans thinking about getting a college education to consider what WSP has to offer.

“If you’re just thinking about school or don’t know what school is like, this is a great opportunity to experience that firsthand at an actual four-year institution,” Liu said.

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