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From Combat to Classroom

Published: February 02, 2011
UT ROTC cadets practice drills.
UT ROTC cadets practice drills.
Behind the book bags and flip flops, every UT student has their own story. More and more, these stories include tales of war, as veterans are the fastest growing group of students on campus.

Students like Danielle Robbins ’12, who left active duty to come to UT for the ROTC program. Or Benjamin Bunn ’11 who served in Iraq three times and now supervises a group of resident assistants.

Robbins was already a junior in college when she decided to join the Army. She came back to UT to finish her degree.

“You see things differently when you’re a soldier,” said Robbins, a criminology major. “And when you go from being surrounded by soldiers, to being surrounded by civilians, it’s a difficult transition.”

Robbins said she has found support at UT through the ROTC program as well as the personnel in the registrar’s office. UT waives up to 100 percent tuition and mandatory fees for veterans – and their dependents – who are eligible for the Post 9/11 GI Bill and Yellow Ribbon Program. Robbins is a Green to Gold scholarship recipient.

This year the University has added a veteran student organization, a veteran orientation for incoming students and a veterans’ advisory board with representatives from the Registrar, Dean of Students, Academic Center for Excellence, the Office of Student Leadership and Engagement, Health and Counseling, Admissions, Graduate Studies, Career Services, Advising and the Office of the Baccalaureate Experience. Plans are in the works for a new Gateways-type course specifically designed to address the needs of veterans.

Because of these efforts, the University has been named a Military Friendly School by Military Advance Education and G.I. Jobs magazine.

Bunn, who is at UT on the post-9/11 GI Bill, had been in the Army for 10 years and deployed to Iraq three times.

He said his transition from soldier to student has been aided by the University’s staff.

“UT has an atmosphere that really lends towards the acceptance and generous treatment of its military personnel,” said Bunn, a government and world affairs major. “The support mechanisms here for service members are grade A.”

Bunn has immersed himself in college life, from being the head resident in ResCom residence hall to running for Homecoming King this fall.

“Tampa is my hometown and after working at the University for a year the choice was a no brainer,” said Bunn, who started as a staff member with the ROTC program before becoming a student. “My love for the school has only grown since then.”

Bunn said that college has expanded his perspectives on politics and society and has developed his leadership style further.

“The Army is a command directed and autocratic organization by nature. As a resident assistant and now a head resident, we work almost exclusively in a democratic fashion,” Bunn said. “This has helped me grow as a leader, and I will no doubt take this with me as I progress in my career as a future leader of soldiers.”

To read more about UT’s veterans, check out the Winter 2011 issue of the UT Journal. For more on Veterans Admissions, visit .