Jonathan Highman (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Admissions Representative, Military & Veteran Services
Grand Rapids—Lettinga & West Region
I enlisted in the Michigan Army National Guard in 2001 and started working on my Bachelor degree soon after finishing initial entry training. In 2004 education was interrupted when my aviation unit received notification of an upcoming deployment to Iraq. Due to the uncertainty of our departure date I decided to continue my education by taking a light, nine credit-load so I would be able to finish classes while deployed if needed but that I would not be completely wasting time if the deployment was postponed. We ended up getting activated in the middle of the semester and I got my first taste of trying to complete classes while deployed to a combat zone. I returned from the deployment and was able to jump right back in to school. It did not take long for me to realize that my experience overseas changed the way I fit into the classroom environment. The school I attended did not have a strong military program and there were very few fellow veterans to act as a support network, nonetheless I adapted and successfully completed my Bachelor degree! Ten days later, my unit received notification of a second deployment to Iraq. The war had calmed down considerably at this point and so I enrolled in an online Master of Business Administration (MBA) program in order to make the best use of my time while in theater. Because of my first deployment, I had a thorough idea of what I needed to do in order to be a successful student while deployed. So I spent a great deal of time gathering contact info, learning about school policy, and preparing myself for the academic challenge that laid ahead. I was blessed to be able to complete one class at a time while deployed, and shortly after returning home I completed all requirements and graduated with my MBA.
During my time in the military, I used the Army’s Tuition Assistance program and applied for three different chapters of the GI Bill: Chapter 1606, Chapter 1607, and Chapter 33. There are many detailed aspects of using GI Bill benefits and because of my experiences as a student and the process of trial and error I have learned a great deal about how I am able to assist other GI Bill users in maximizing their benefits and becoming successful.