Delivering on its commitment to assist soldiers taking a significant academic step into their future by filling in voids left by the Post-9/11 GI Bill, the national nonprofit SoldierStrong announced the 2020 recipients of its scholarship initiative, SoldierScholar, today.
“SoldierStrong realized early on that higher education provides a crucial set of opportunities for veterans as they return home from service and begin to transition, and ultimately adjust, to civilian life,” said SoldierStrong co-founder and chairman Chris Meek. “Our organization and supporters recognize the value of the unique interaction that occurs between higher education institutions and veterans. Not only do veterans benefit greatly from higher education, but they serve as major assets to the schools they attend by bringing with them unparalleled experiences and leadership characteristics from their time in service.”
Meek continued, “Though the GI Bill has benefitted almost one million veterans in the past year, it has not historically relieved all of the costs associated with obtaining a degree. Textbooks, classroom fees, transportation, technology, tutoring and a number of other additional expenses that come with obtaining a degree are often not considered upfront when developing a general financial plan. SoldierScholar was created to fill in those gaps left by the bill and alleviate the additional costs associated with receiving a degree. It is an honor to support and assist soldiers in their academic endeavors.”
SoldierScholar scholarships are available to veterans who fought in the recent War on Terror. SoldierStrong, which primarily provides revolutionary medical technologies to Veterans Affairs medical centers across the country to help injured veterans lead full lives, launched SoldierScholar in 2012 and has since awarded more than $500,000. This year’s recipients include:
Lucas Netti, Public Administration, Syracuse University
Lucas Netti served in the U.S. Army with the 82nd Airborne Division as an infantryman and sniper team leader. This past August, Netti graduated from Syracuse University with a bachelor of arts in political science and is expected to graduate from the university with a master’s degree in public administration and a certificate of advanced studies in security studies in August 2021. Upon graduation Netti plans on pursuing a career in government in the national security sector. “Getting the SoldierScholarship means a lot to me because it gives me an opportunity to represent Syracuse University and its veteran community. It is a good way of showing my academic achievements as a veteran and is a testament to the outstanding education that the professors here at Syracuse have provided me,” Netti said.
Kala Hagen, Foreign Service, Georgetown University
Kala Hagen served in the U.S. Navy for nine years as a cryptologic language analyst specializing in Arabic and Somali. While on active duty, Hagen earned a bachelor of arts in anthropology at the University of Florida and was selected for several prestigious language immersion programs, including Middlebury College’s summer language program in California. While receiving her master of science in foreign service at Georgetown University, Hagen will concentrate on international development in the Middle East and Africa and is especially interested in reducing factors that contribute to extremism and terrorism. Upon graduation, she aspires to serve with the State Department or U.S. Agency for International Development. “I feel incredibly honored and humbled to have been selected for a SoldierScholar scholarship,” Hagen said. “I really admire the work that SoldierStrong does to help veterans, so for them to choose to invest so significantly in my education means a great deal to me.”
Jessica Evans, Civil Engineer Technology, Old Dominion University
Jessica Evans served in the U.S. Navy as a sonar technician while stationed in Hawaii and various other places around the world. In part due to financial considerations, Evans did not go to college directly after high school, and instead was inspired to join the military branch in which both of her grandfathers served. Evans sees her service as a way to honor their legacy. After finishing her bachelor’s degree in engineering, Evans plans to pursue her master’s degree. “Growing up I never dreamed about going to college let alone going as far as pursuing my master’s degree. So to have this opportunity to reach for my dreams is really special,” Evans said.
To learn more about the SoldierScholar initiative or to donate, please visit https://www.soldierstrong.org/scholarship.