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Survey Shows Diversity of NMU’s Student Veterans

Diversity is something that members of America’s armed forces inadvertently come to cherish and appreciate.

You learn quickly that the color of one’s skin, religious preference, ethnicity, and socio-economic background are irrelevant. When the bullets start flying, your only concern is whether or not your buddy has your back–lifelong friendships are built and you embrace each other’s diversity.

At Northern Michigan University, located in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, student veterans continue to embrace diversity. The student veterans of NMU contribute immensely to the diverse demographics that the university has.

Twenty-three student veterans at NMU recently participated in an online survey regarding the branch in which they served in and their area of study at Northern.

47.8% served in the Army, 17.4% served in the Navy, 13% served in the Air Force, 17.4% served in the Marine Corps, and 4.3% served in the Coast Guard. 78.3% were active duty and 21.7% served in either the reserve component and/or the National Guard.

Discipline, the ability to lead from the front, and the problem solving skills that are acquired while serving can certainly give student veterans at NMU an edge over their peers; the lessons learned from combat can increase that edge dramatically.

Student veterans at NMU have served in an array of combat zones. 21.7% served in Afghanistan, 13.04% served in Iraq, while 4.3% served in Desert Storm.

When you think of a student veteran, chances are it’s the image of a 20-something who recently separated from the military after one enlistment, giving off a rather different impression than their peers: he’s bearded, wears combat boots with jeans to class and seems a little impatient or on edge, and sits in a seat that ensures that his back is never facing the door.

Bottom line, they act and look a bit different than others. Well, it’s because we are different. 

Though the picture I just painted for you isn’t too far fetched from the actuality of the matter, the demographic of the student veteran’s time in service ranges vastly. 8.7% served two years, 17.4% served four years, 8.72% served six years, 8.7% served 10 years, 4.3% served 21 years, 4.3% served 22 years, and 4.3% served for 24 years.

Keep in mind that a few percentiles are not listed but are illustrated in the graph below.

NMU’s student veterans originate from all over the state of Michigan, the country, and the world, ranging from the Midwest, the east coast, the Dakotas, and the Philippines.

The immense diversity of where NMU’s student veteran population originate prompts several questions: Why the U.P. and why study at NMU? What draws us to call this wonderful place home and pursue a degree here?

Maybe it’s something simple, such as the university offering a likable degree and the location aligning with the students’ interests. Maybe it’s the beautiful landscape of coastal Lake Superior? Either way, student veterans here at NMU come from all over to pursue a higher education.

What are they studying? From Fisheries & Wildlife Management, Sports Science, Anthropology, to a Master’s degree of Science in Nursing-Family Nurse Practitioner, the chosen degree path of NMU’s student veterans vary greatly.

Not only do the areas of study range extensively, but the time period of their service does as well–making the age range of student veterans vary enormously as well, as you can see below:

The diverse demographics of NMU’s student veterans are clearly apparent. They have come from all over, served in different branches, served in different time periods and places, and are currently studying an array of subject areas–adding to the already-diverse demographics of NMU.

Regardless of these demographics, one can’t help but be thankful for the veterans here in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and beyond.

Ryan McChesney

Ryan McChesney is a U.S. Army veteran. His time in service brought him to places such as Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. His personal interests include fly fishing, hiking with his dog Dwight, sailing, surfing, reading, and writing. Ryan is currently a Senior at Northern Michigan University, majoring in English-Secondary Education, and a member of the Men’s Varsity Soccer team. He would like to pursue a career in journalism while teaching high school English.

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