WSP’s New 2023
With 270 veterans served over three months, the 2023 summer academic boot camp season marked Warrior-Scholar Project’s 12th successful year empowering enlisted veterans as they transition to college. In just over a decade, what began with nine students learning at Yale University has expanded to 21 of America’s top schools, including new partners Brown University, Wesleyan University, and William & Mary (W&M). WSP was thrilled to introduce its flagship programming to three new communities, especially as its new partners are taking considerable steps to increase support for military veterans.
Despite being the “new kids on campus” at Brown, Wesleyan, and W&M, participants and staff described feeling welcomed like family and treated to some unforgettable experiences at each institution. Beyond hospitality, participants connected with campus culture and immersed themselves in the academic experience for one week.
The attention to detail shown during these first-time in-person boot camps left WSP’s student veterans with unparalleled experiences unique to each university and a renewed sense of purpose for tackling life after the military.
“Change the world” at Wesleyan
Wesleyan offers its students a robust liberal arts education along with physics programs, and the WSP STEM academic boot camp demonstrated how veterans can blend the two disciplines and find a meaningful career post-service. “Hopeful warrior scholars should apply to the Wesleyan boot camp if they are looking to merge the arts and STEM to change the world,” said WSP’s military and veteran organizations outreach manager.
A small and selective liberal arts school, WSP staff shared that both Wesleyan professors and students were engaging and added authenticity to the experience. The university also took a particular interest in helping participants demystify the college admissions process and understand the benefits of higher education.
Beyond lectures, courses were interactive, with one memorable moment involving the “submarine sandwich” demonstration. During the experiment, a student veteran was asked to lay on top of a bed of nails before having a second set laid on top of him, creating a visual sandwich. This demonstration, called the Physics of the Bed of Nails Experiment, was a unique way for faculty to interact with students and explain how surface area, pressure, and forces are related.
One 2023 participant said the program gave them “a lot of hope for my future in education.” Another expressed enthusiasm for the next phase of their higher education journey — as a Cardinal.
“WSP is literally the reason I’m going to be attending Wesleyan this fall. That speaks for itself. This program changed the course of my life in a completely new direction,” said the 2023 WSP-Wesleyan Academic Boot Camp alumnus.
That renewed excitement for learning is exactly why Wesleyan chose to partner with WSP, said Noble Jones, the university’s associate dean of admission. “We heard loudly and clearly from our current student-veterans who are WSP alumni that their boot camp experiences played pivotal roles in their academic careers and allowed an introduction to a wider academic veteran community,” he said. “The impact of WSP is abundantly obvious, and we knew that Wesleyan should be a part of such impactful, meaningful programming … It’s challenging to find words that adequately capture the honor and pride we collectively feel as we get to witness our military veterans expand their academic horizons, realize that they are capable, beyond deserving, and are prepared for success in higher ed.”
Join a growing veteran network at Brown
In recent years, Brown has nearly doubled the number of veterans enrolled as undergraduates and the university provides full financial support to its entire contingent of student-veterans. These measures have led to a growing military-affiliated community on campus, and participants of the Humanities Academic Boot Camp at Brown could see firsthand how veterans enrich the university’s culture. Warrior scholars also learned from and networked with several military-connected instructors and faculty.
Brown ensured that participants felt at home from the moment they arrived; all students received a welcome bag with Brown essentials, and an Army ROTC student also gave them a same-day campus tour to help them navigate the historic institution. Participants from this cohort were also exclusively invited to a social dinner at the request of Eric Estes and Loc Truong, Brown’s vice president and assistant vice president of Campus Life, respectively. Estes hosted the intimate event at his home.
“Having dinner with VP Estes and AVP Truong made us feel like we were part of the Brown community,” said Whittney Gould, WSP’s director of communications and marketing. “Brown’s commitment to student veterans on campus shone through from the minute we arrived, and everyone felt warmly welcomed.”
Inside the classroom, Brown’s open curriculum approach to education encourages students to develop a personalized course of study, making it a unique option as an Ivy League school. “Attending a boot camp at Brown allows you to learn more about the open curriculum concept while you explore the campus, meet faculty and the Office of Military-Affiliated Students staff, and talk with Brown admissions staff and current Brown student veterans about what makes the school special,” Gould said.
One 2023 Brown boot camp participant echoed that sentiment, “I would recommend this to other veterans because it really paints a great picture of what college is like. Not only that, but what it’s like at an Ivy League university. The connections you make and the people you meet are worth attending WSP.”
Experience a small college environment at William & Mary
Founded in 1693, William & Mary is the second oldest institution of higher learning in the United States, recognized for its academic reputation and vibrant community. Located just south of Washington, D.C., and midway between Richmond and Norfolk, Va., the premier public research university is uniquely accessible to enlisted veterans from all branches.
William & Mary first partnered with WSP in 2022 for a virtual program, but this year marked the first time students and staff had the opportunity to visit the historic campus in person. Participants of the 2023 Humanities Academic Boot Camp at William & Mary experienced the benefits of attending a school that provides a “small college environment,” which fosters student-professor interaction. Notably, 83% of classes have fewer than 40 students, and W&M also maintains a low student-to-faculty ratio of 13-to-1, the lowest among public universities. This approach to education naturally showcases the college’s faculty’s passion. One 2023 W&M boot camp participant said a highlight was “being around professors that love what they do and are passionate about teaching students.”
“They will treat you as if you’re already one of their successful students and make you feel more than welcome,” said Britney Domine, senior humanities fellow.
Outside of faculty lectures, this year’s cohort found the College Success sessions enlightening. Led by WSP fellows, the sessions covered topics like understanding GI Bill benefits, the college admissions process, and what to expect when transitioning to higher education. The holistic approach leaves veterans feeling empowered as they embark on the next phases of their lives. “I believe this program really gives veterans a way to prepare for college. In addition, it is a great way to learn about resources for veterans, both in education and otherwise,” said a 2023 WSP-William & Mary Academic Boot Camp alumnus.
Max Matsui, a 2023 W&M boot camp participant who is currently on active duty in the Marine Corps, shared that the program helped him feel more confident in pursuing higher education. “I think having such a diverse cohort and fellows in regard to background and experience helped answer all of the questions that I had. I’m extremely grateful to William & Mary for facilitating this program.”
Forged in Service, Fueled by Education
WSP’s vision is to ensure that every degree-seeking enlisted veteran succeeds in their pursuit of higher education, and expanding our reach makes our life-changing programming accessible to even more veterans across the country while highlighting the variety of the college experience. The first-time in-person boot camps at Wesleyan, Brown, and William & Mary provided student veterans with immersive experiences that went beyond academics, fostering a sense of belonging and connection to campus culture.
From blending STEM and the arts at Wesleyan to the welcoming veteran community at Brown to the intimate environment at William & Mary, participants gained invaluable insights and networks that will last a lifetime. As WSP continues to support veterans during their transition to civilian life, its partnerships, both new and old, continue to inspire warrior scholars in the classroom and beyond.