Dunwoody’s new Veteran and Military Student Center is a central point for veterans and military students to study, find resources, and socialize.
Dean of Students Kelli Sattler began her work at Dunwoody College of Technology in July 2015 with a clear vision for creating a well-rounded student experience.
“Another important part of my role is to step back and think big picture about what our College is doing to support and empower students to be at their best,” Sattler wrote in a letter to students and parents. “In doing so, I collaborate with faculty, academic support, student services, and colleagues across campus. I also listen to students and lead the way in implementing their vision for the future.”
So when veterans and military students spoke up last spring about their need for a bigger space with more resources on campus, Sattler put a focus group together, listened to their needs, and got to work on a plan for a new Veteran and Military Student Center.
The Center opened earlier this fall.
Dunwoody students build a new center
Danial Hannover is a Construction Management student and President of the Student Government Association (SGA). He also served in the United States Marine Corps from 2008 to 2016. In that time, Hannover was deployed to Afghanistan twice. When he was honorably discharged in 2016, he was a Staff Sergeant (E-6).
Hannover has been working with Sattler to ensure that the new space offers the right kind of environment for veterans and military students to thrive.
“It’s a complete 180 from the last Veterans Center,” Hannover said. “Whenever I come in here there are at least four or five people studying, doing homework. And you see people talking and connecting with each other, which is cool.”
Donavan Sullivan also played a vital role in building the new Center. In addition to his four years of service in the Marine Corps, Sullivan was the Student President of the College’s honor society – Phi Theta Kappa – and the Multi-Cultural Student Union. Since graduating in May 2016, Sullivan has stayed with the College as an Admissions Counselor.
With his experience as a veteran, student, and employee, Sullivan offered a unique point of view.
“Some of the things that I suggested were moving it to a bigger space and updating the materials and resources in the Center,” Sullivan said. “We’re also working to get some TVs in there. One of them will play a PowerPoint presentation to show resources for students like the VA number and the suicide hotline. Suicide is a big issue in the veteran community. So I want that hotline number to just be out there constantly.”
Dunwoody establishes new programs to support veterans
In addition to building the new space, Sattler has been working with veterans on campus to establish Warrior Wednesdays and the Veteran and Military Student Organization.
Sattler’s goal for Warrior Wednesdays is to invite veteran-friendly employers in to talk to veteran students, giving students a chance to network with companies who are interested in hiring veterans. Comcast was the first company to participate in October.
“This will be sort of a one-company career fair,” Sullivan said. “Just to get them to come and meet with students about job opportunities for veterans.”
The Veteran and Military Student Organization had its first meeting in early November with plans to customize their agenda based on the needs of the group. Their goal is to become another resource of information and support for students on campus.
The effects of a new space
Hannover is already seeing what he had hoped the Center would do for veterans on campus.
“It’s bringing students together talking and connecting with each other. That’s one of the biggest things that veterans have an issue with.” Hannover said. “They’re not around the people that they’ve been around for the past four to 20 years of their life. And they all have the same mentality. So it’s good to see people connect and create a support system for each other.”
Sattler is hoping that this new Center will encourage other students to speak up about their own experiences on campus as well.
“If students see that we listen as an institution and that we care about the things that are working and the things that aren’t, and that we’re willing to make improvements based on that feedback, I think that goes a long way,” Sattler said.
Dunwoody celebrates Veterans Day
Dunwoody will be celebrating Veterans Day on Friday, Nov. 11, with a flag raising ceremony at 10:45 a.m. followed by a presentation featuring Lorne Brunner at 11:30 a.m. in the McNamara Center.
Brunner served in the U.S Navy for 20 years. His military career encompassed six tours of duty in Somalia, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Japan, and the Bering Sea. He was a chief petty officer and cryptologist assigned TAD with two SEAL teams. He will share his journey from leaving a Navy career after significant combat injuries and rehabilitation, to a successful occupation as a licensed private investigator and certified forensic fire and explosion expert.