A West Virginia University student veteran is partly crediting the supportive environment the University provides to students like him with his military success on the national level, success that now includes a competitive fellowship.
The National Veterans Leadership Foundation this week tapped student veteran Benjamin DeRoos to serve as a Foundation Fellow during a six-month development program, a selection based on DeRoos’ history of service and leadership potential.
“I’ve been able to take advantage of opportunities like this because the Center for Veteran, Military and Family Programs staff at WVU recognized my potential and made sure I got a shot,” DeRoos said. “The connections I’ve made with other military-connected staff and students on campus have opened doors to opportunities I never expected, and that will have a huge impact on my future.”
DeRoos, a native of Fairmont, joined the Air Force National Guard in 2017 and knows the struggle of balancing military service and schoolwork. He’s currently working toward his bachelor’s degree in mechanical and aerospace engineering in the Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources while serving in the National Guard.
“I’m incredibly proud of Ben and his selection as an NVLF Fellow,” said Jerry Wood, Center director. “As president of WVU’s student veteran organization, Ben has served his fellow veteran and military-connected student community consisting of nearly 1,200 students. This opportunity to connect, collaborate and learn from the 15 other fellows will not only be personally beneficial for Ben, but will also greatly benefit all our military-connected students initiatives throughout WVU.”
The newly selected class of 16 students, representing colleges and universities from across the country, will take part in a program designed to help them grow as leaders, continue their lives of service and make a positive impact on the military-connected community on their campuses. In addition, each fellow will receive a scholarship stipend to help support their higher education studies.
“Returning to school after serving your country — or balancing schoolwork with the responsibilities of still serving in uniform — is a challenge,” noted retired U.S. Air Force Major General Timothy Zadalis, dean of the NVLF Fellowship Program. “Student leaders like Ben play a critical role in helping create an inclusive campus that supports the military-connected community.”
In addition to being named an NVLF Fellow, DeRoos was also recently selected to participate in the Student Veterans of America Leadership Institute in Washington, D.C. The selection committee that extended invitations for the institute picked campus leaders from high-ranking college campuses across the country.
“WVU provides a supportive environment for student veterans and that’s a big part of the success I’ve had here,” DeRoos said. “There’s The Bunker where you can find like-minded students, veteran-reserved study rooms on campus and a campus chapter of Student Veterans of America. That group is a great support system for WVU vets by offering networking opportunities, by serving as a strong voice for student vets on campus and by giving us an opportunity to speak up.”
Military Times magazine recently recognized WVU as one of the top 20 schools in the country for veterans and military-connected students.
MEDIA CONTACT: Jerry Wood
WVU Center for Veteran, Military and Family Programs
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