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Transition Course Offered to Veterans

October 3, 2011

Veterans have the opportunity to learn the basic tools for academic success through a new class: the Veterans Transition Course at UW. Professors Steve Barrett and Cameron Wright of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering are instructors in a new course that provides skills to returning veterans for successful transition to college life. The Veterans Transition Course, which began at UW this fall, has a current enrollment of nine students, and is becoming one of the most inspirational learning experiences on campus.

“One of the most important lessons we hope our student veterans take away from this course is that they aren’t alone; the challenges they face in transitioning to a university environment are shared by many,” says Wright. “I’ve found that UW faculty and staff all across campus are committed to helping ease the veterans’ transition. The strength of a course like this is the close, personal nature of the way it’s run—it helps students gain trust and confidence in themselves.”

The Veterans Task Force, with direction from Director of the Learning Resource Networks April Heaney, reviewed nationwide programs to determine a way that the university could support veterans wanting to return to school. Veterans were surveyed in an effort to find out what they felt would be most useful in a transition program. Of those surveyed, information literacy was high on the list. With the results of the survey and input from the Veterans Task Force, the UW Veterans Transition Course was created to fulfill the Intellectual Community (I) and Information Literacy (L) requirements of the University Studies Program (USP) which students must complete in order to graduate from any UW program. The USP requires students to develop skills necessary to express oneself in speech and writing, to locate, evaluate and effectively use information, and to examine problems from quantitative, qualitative, and scientific perspectives. Students gain the perspectives necessary to deal with complex issues, appreciate the viewpoints of others, function effectively in multicultural communities, understand the responsibility to participate in democratic society, and communicate clearly in a civic environment.

“We have a lot of fun with this group of students and they have some wonderful camaraderie,” says Heaney. “The relationships they are forming in the class will really help them feel part of the campus community.”

The overall goals of the course include: a smooth transition to college life (time management skills, financial management, physical education); basic tools for academic success (basic writing skills, library skills, oral presentation skills, and advising); information on resources available to returning veterans (VA benefits, academic services, career services); a sense of community, camaraderie and belonging (interaction with fellow veterans, community service opportunities); and information on veteran related challenges (post traumatic stress disorder awareness, AWARE, suicide prevention, stress reduction techniques).

“We are honored to teach this course to our fellow veterans,” says Barrett. “It is the right thing to do and will provide great opportunities for veterans that have never gone to school as well as veterans returning to school following service to our country.” Both Barrett and Wright are military veterans with almost 50 years of active duty between them.

For more information about this course and how to enroll, please contact Steve Barrett at or (307) 766-4253.


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