CSU Voices and Views

My CSU Path from Military to Success

By Mark Scott
CSU Channel Islands Alumnus

When I graduated with an associate’s degree at Ventura Community College in 2008, I had no idea where to go next. Furthering my education at a four-year university crossed my mind, but affording it made obtaining a bachelor’s degree a far-fetched goal. In search of direction, I decided to join the Marine Corps the following year, which led to my discovery of funding options – such as the GI Bill – that made attending a CSU a reality. Through resourceful faculty and campus services available for veterans and active duty students alike, CSU Channel Islands provided a quality educational bridge that connected the military to my career success.

Upon entering CSUCI in 2010, I immediately saw the need for military students to have a familiar place on campus; I desired a community where student veterans could collaborate and share experiences while navigating through college. This idea drove a fellow student vet and I to form the Veteran’s Club, a student veteran organization, gathering vets on campus for events, such as Toys for Tots and care package drives for deployed troops. By the following year, I was voted president of the Veteran’s Club.

The Veteran’s Club enabled me to assist in the development of CSUCI’s Veteran Resource Center. At the beginning of my enrollment at CSUCI, the Veteran Resource Center was limited to only being a place for vets to complete their financial aid paper works. While the service was helpful, military students, like many other college students, deserve comprehensive assistance and support at all stages of the college experience. I assisted with the improvement of the resource center by researching other existing campus’ best practices, reaching out to vets and surveying the vets’ needs and experiences. I’m proud to have contributed to the growth of the Veteran Resource Center to what it is now.

The Veteran Resource Center has grown tremendously – it’s now a place for vets and active duty students to study, collaborate, socialize and get assistance. The center offers mentoring services, as well as workshop series on a variety of topics, including transitioning from school to career, money and time management and mock interviews. The center also sponsors the annual Medallion Ceremony, in which vets and dependents are acknowledged by wearing a medallion during commencement ceremonies. With a welcoming environment and a variety of programs and electronic resources available, the Veteran Resource Center is truly an enriching space on campus for student vets.

My leadership of the Veteran’s Club and contribution to the Veteran Resource Center led to an invitation from Jay Derrico, Veterans Affairs Program Coordinator, to join the Veteran Success Advisory Committee in 2013 as a student member. That same year, the committee launched the Veterans Internship program and I was honored to be the first participant. The Veteran Internship program is a great opportunity, as many employers in the program are military-friendly. The company I interned for, Bernzott Capital Advisors, had an understanding of the overlap of my obligations, both as a student and a service member, while most civilians do not. Upon receiving my bachelor’s degree, I was offered a full-time position at the company.

Today, as Operations Officer and assistant vice president at Bernzott Capital Advisors, I owe much of my success to CSUCI’s superb teaching and top-notch veterans programs. My transition from being a student vet is a true testament to the CSU’s mission to providing high-quality educational experience and my story is just one of 3 million CSU alumni. The small classroom sizes, in addition to the resource center, provided an interactive and specialized learning experience that enabled me to successfully apply my knowledge at work. I’m still active in the Veteran Success Advisory Committee as an alumni member, working to ensure military students at CSUCI are provided the same support I received as they embark on their journey from college to career.

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The California State University is celebrating reaching 3 million alumni worldwide! All alumni from our 23 campuses and the Class of 2015 are part of the special Class of 3 Million Celebration.
We invite all CSU alumni and the Class of 2015 to join Mark Scott in the online yearbook and claim your spot in The Class of 3 Million!

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