Every veteran has a story
At UW Bothell, we're proud to help our student veterans as they pursue their academic career. There are more than 200 student veterans at the university. Here are a few of their stories.
Greetings fellow Huskies! My name is Chris McRae. I am currently a PhD candidate at Clemson University; the Executive Director of nonprofit in Greenville, SC that promotes community well-being and works towards poverty alleviation called the Center for Community Services (CCS); and, most importantly, a proud graduate of the University of Washington Bothell (UWB) Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences Community Psychology program. Prior to my pursuits in higher education, I served for ten years as a Ranger-qualified United States Army Infantryman. Upon returning to school, I found the rigors of academia at UWB and my work in the community to be both enriching and transformative.
While the stereotypical infantryman develops an attitude of ideological rigidity, I left the service with a dramatically different outlook. During my last tour in Iraq, I volunteered to lead my unit’s community development and infrastructure repair efforts in addition to my other duties. While engaged in this capacity, I learned that leadership is not about controlling others; it is about building community and serving. I recognized that humans—all peoples—their beliefs, and their cultural ideals must be viewed in the broadest context possible. I came to appreciate the significance of community; without meaningful interconnectedness, our chances for positive change are severely limited.
My deep experience of other cultures, and indeed of the suffering of other peoples, has developed in me a profound empathy and a visceral understanding of injustice. These are what continue to drive me to labor for positive change and social justice through my work in building and strengthening communities. Through my work in community psychology, I find that the keystone of community development is the strengthening of families. In my current work with both families living in poverty and in veteran readjustment, I have found that empowering families provides positive effects for each individual—this eventually translates to the larger community. My training as a community psychologist at UWB provided me with the social relationships, academic ability, and theoretical frameworks to not only understand these concepts but also to use these understandings to create a plan of action and transform my passions into avocation. Further, the world class education I received at UWB fully provided me with the intellectual knowledge necessary to be successful in graduate school. For this reason, while my academic career may conclude amongst the Clemson Tigers, I will always proudly label myself as a UWB Husky!
Skills Developed at UW Bothell: Leadership development, adult education, community organizing, conflict resolution, empowerment, human rights.
As a six-year veteran of the US Navy, I wasn’t sure what to make of my UW Bothell experience initially. However, I soon came to realize that the key to an enriching experience would be to immerse myself as much as possible in the UWB family. Joining and then volunteering for a leadership role with the Student Veteran’s Association on campus, actively supporting other organizations I believed in like the human rights student group, and utilizing the various resources on campus such as Career Services really set me up for success post-graduation. Through Career Services, I was able to develop an internship in Leogane, Haiti, and ultimately earned an on-campus position as an Assistant Career Advisor. All of these experiences plus the very challenging IAS coursework from the Global Studies program allowed me to build a competitive portfolio.
Regrettably, the one thing that I did let slide through my time as an undergrad was my career search. I was so busy being involved on campus (I think “balance” is the idea to strive for), that I neglected to really engage in any sort of concerted job exploration. Due to networking with my mentor in Career Services, I did find employment as a Product Support Specialist with a software firm, and although it did pay the bills and I was grateful for that, my heart wasn’t in it. Because of this disconnect, I maintained my relationships with non-profits like All Hands Volunteers that I had worked with in the past in Haiti and domestically. Eventually, after working with Natalia Dyba in Merit Scholarships over eight months, I followed my passion and applied to a master’s program at the University of Cambridge in England, and was accepted. So I went from graduating with really no plan at all to being accepted into the program of my dreams. For me, the key was to stay engaged in the things I care about, keep relationships open with professors and the UWB family, and don’t lose hope. As long as you keep improving and challenging yourself, doors will open for you.
During my senior year of college, I decided to take a handful of my core business courses at University of Washington Bothell, to compliment the Information Systems classes I was taking at my primary institution. Looking back, this was a decision that would manifest into the professional success that I found soon after, as I started my career at Microsoft.
The essential business knowledge that I gained at UWB is something that gave me a strong competitive advantage as I got my foot into the door as a Software Design Engineer at Microsoft. I felt fully equipped with a broader perspective and could see the process of systems analysis and design more holistically, not just through the eyes of a engineer. I could now perceive the underlying business value proposition as it related to projects from start-to-finish, and I had a deeper understanding of the core business processes. This education gave me the ability to translate technical problems and scenarios to internal customers who were more interested in the business justifications and the "bottom-line".
In addition to the value that I got from UWB's core business classes, I was also blown away at the support system that I received from the school's student veteran program. This group is made up of like-minded military veterans who also had finished their time serving in active duty, and were now pursuing their educational goals. During my last quarter, I enrolled into a student veteran transitional course that fortified my appreciation for this program at the school.
I am thankful that I chose this path through University of Washington Bothell. When starting a new journey, you don't always know what the outcome will be. I walked through their doors 1 year ago and by the time I was finished, I had gained highly valuable skills, lasting friendships, and a military support network that together, helped pave my way to success.
After serving 4 years in the US Navy, I returned to UW Bothell to complete my Bachelors Degree in IAS/Global Studies. My academic curriculum enabled me to focus on the characteristics of globalization and global business--an area of study that led me to work for the largest online retailer in the world. I currently lead multiple teams of 90+ direct reports to guarantee accuracy and adherence to quality standards for Amazon.com distribution. On a daily basis I develop performance goals and objectives to achieve customer promise expectations, ensuring that consumers are able to purchase whatever they want, whenever they want—linking supply and demand with a simple click of a mouse. Fortunately, the translation of my academic emphasis into the job sector came with ease as the career center worked with me in the months leading up to my graduation. Thanks to the dedication and help of UWB Career Services, my transition into a very challenging job market was seamless. From resume review, to interview prep, to submissions on “Huskyjobs”, my job placement was proudly conducted entirely on the UWB campus. For students: I would recommend opening a dialogue with Career Services as early as you can. Many juniors and seniors under-utilize the most up-to-date resources that the Career Services has to offer. It often takes 6 months to fully prepare a working resume that effectively addresses your strengths as a job candidate.
After almost 5 years in the US Navy, I returned to the Bothell area to attend the University of Washington, Bothell's Master of Arts in Policy Studies Program. With the support of the Student-Veteran Association (SVA) and UWB's great Veterans Services Department, I felt like I had the institutional and peer support I needed to successfully complete any program of study. At one point the university even went above and beyond the call of duty to get me a merit scholarship when my GI Bill benefits would not cover fees associated with one of my classes. Through the UWB I got a great internship doing education research and really fell in love with K-8 education. I came back to UWB to get my teaching certification and I plan on using the connections I've made here at UWB and the proven acumen of the Career Services to get a great job as a public school teacher. The UWB has been a very supportive environment for me as a student veteran and I am very proud to call myself an alumni. I would recommend this campus to any veteran and I would strongly recommend that incoming student-veterans take advantage of on-campus clubs like the SVA (and others through orgsync.com) and all the great services offered by Career Services at UWB.
After Spending 5 years in the US Army as a Human Intelligence Collector I came to UWB to get a personal in-class experience with a degree in Global Studies. After one year I changed my major to Electrical Engineering and am starting that in the fall of 2013. My first quarter at UWB I found two great programs outside of the classroom that were offered. The Student Veterans Association and the Debate Society. Both have helped me grow personally and give in positive ways. Through debate I am able to challenge myself on a collegiate level and compete against other schools in a truly cross discipline sport. Debate has helped me become a much better public speaker, better at rhetoric, and has helped me stay up to date on world issues. Through the SVA I have been able to meet other veterans in and out of my classes. In addition, I was able to work on raising money for the Veteran's Archway, a memorial to the service all student veterans have done. I currently am also a Recreation Supervisor with student life. As a Recreation Supervisor I have been able to be involved in another one of my passions, sports. I currently run, organize, and promote all of the recreation activities on campus. This includes intramural sports, special events, and off campus excursions.
One month prior to the day I began classes at UW Bothell, I got off active duty orders for a deployment to Iraq. One month after graduating, I was off to my next deployment in Southeast Asia. Pursuing a double major in IAS/Global Studies and Interdisciplinary Art with a minor in Human Rights was an invaluable way to compliment my global experiences with theoretical understanding and creative reflection. The interdisciplinary model facilitates learning across disciplines and courses in a way that reflects the complexities and interconnectedness of career fields, society, and our world. Although I started at UWB with the notion that my Bachelors Degree would be the culminating event of a long and non-traditional career as a community college student, the support and success I enjoyed at Bothell gave me the confidence and intellectual curiosity to purse a graduate degree. I am currently enrolled at Seattle University, earning a Master of Arts in Education, Adult Education and Training. As a future educator, I intend to facilitate the kind of learning and intellectual growth in content areas that were modeled for me by UW Bothell IAS faculty.
Quality Engineer, Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation
Because the title for IAS is one that most people can't readily understand, I was a bit unsure about the degree after I graduated. I was drawn to the program because of the diverse breadth of classes offered; I believed a diverse education would benefit me more than would a narrowly defined program. I am a bit of a chameleon and have done very well in different levels of my work and personal life. My IAS degree filled many of the holes in my education, allowing me to bridge the experiences in my life to build a strong outlook to my new life.
After graduation I did contract work as a quality engineer because it matched my background. I was picked up by a company that is manufacturing parts for the new Boeing 787. My degree was instrumental in my success there because I had the opportunity to work with international companies. My degree helped me to see situations from international perspectives, allowing me to negotiate an out-of-the-box deal that resulted in saving the contractor $4.3 million dollars annually over the next twenty years. This little snippet in my resume attracted an offer from Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation in Savannah Georgia. I am working as a quality engineer with the Mexican branch of the company. So much for the three quarters of Japanese!
Diversity was a major focus during my recent orientation in this position and is a major buzzword for international businesses today and for the future. The IAS degree core tenants are to embrace, understand, and amplify diversity. Employers desire this well rounded education as the world becomes smaller through globalization.
As a Gulf War disabled Vet I was very fortunate to have the assistance of the disabilities and student services departments. The entire faculty and staff are incredibly helpful and supportive. I know this all sounds like a paid advertisement for the university, but I can honestly say that University of Washington Bothell changed my life and I know it will change yours for the best.