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Veteran Leads Innovative First-Year Seminar for Other Veterans at UW

January 30, 2018
two men seated at a table looking at a laptop computer
UW doctoral student T.K. Stoudt, right, works with freshman Jeff Waller on his portfolio, part of an innovative first-year seminar for veterans. (UW Photo)

Showing that military veterans and other nontraditional students bring a wealth of real-world experience with them to college, T.K. Stoudt, who served in the Air Force for 32 years, is pursuing his doctorate in the University of Wyoming’s College of Education and teaching an innovative first-year seminar for incoming freshmen veterans.

The class’s research component helps the veterans recognize and honor their past learning experiences by completing a prior learning assessment (PLA). They research past classes they’ve taken and certificates they’ve earned in the military or at community colleges and other centers of learning. They also chronicle their work experience.

The goal is multifaceted. For some, it can translate to actual college credits.

“The goal would be to get a max of 24 hours of credit. That’s two semesters,” Stoudt says. This can happen through course matching, looking at similar courses between UW and past experiences, and challenge testing. The students create a portfolio and a presentation.

“As we get through the process, there’s a lot of self-confidence, self-advocacy and seeing the value of what you’ve done in the past,” Stoudt says. “You can see them blossom and become proud of their accomplishments, even if it’s not going to be honored with credits. It’s honored just by celebrating it and showing your peers what you’ve done.”

Stoudt helps the students complete their e-portfolios in the CANVAS online learning management system. He hopes that eventually the portfolios can be easily submitted to the registrar, creating a streamlined process for evaluating and recognizing PLAs.

As with other first-year seminars, the class also has larger goals.

“We focus on academic success skills, transitioning skills and then community transition. We’ve coined the motto: from warrior to scholar,” Stoudt says, explaining that he, along with the team at UW’s Veterans Services Center, want to help veterans feel confident and comfortable in the larger campus environment.

“You have certain knowledge, skills and abilities that made you a really good warrior, but there are other skills, knowledge and abilities that are different for college,” Stoudt says. “We try to build that bridge and provide the skills they need -- time management, prioritization, study skills, campus resources and transitioning.”

Stoudt also facilitates faculty learning communities for UW’s Army and Air Force ROTC detachments.

Originally from Ottawa, Ill., Stoudt served in Iraq, Afghanistan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Central America doing tactical work. He also did stints at the Pentagon and on Capitol Hill.

“In that 32 years of service, I consider myself very fortunate that I’m a combat veteran, and I’m here to talk to you with all my limbs and most of my faculties,” he says.

Stoudt went on to become a professional military education instructor, which led to his love for teaching the next generation. He finds UW a welcoming place for veterans.

“I’d say to the veterans looking at UW, ‘Come here, because it can be like a family reunion,’” he says. “Some universities say they’re veteran-friendly, but the brown and gold is truly veteran-friendly. We work with purpose and intention to meet veterans’ needs.”

To learn more about UW’s Veterans Services Center, visit www.uwyo.edu/vetservices.


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