Warrior-Scholar Project 2020 Syracuse Cohort Spotlight: Brian Gardner and Victoria Zetterkvist

Updated: Sep 15

Brian Gardner, U.S. Army veteran


Brian Gardner

What was your educational experience prior to WSP? Would you consider yourself a confident student?

Prior to WSP, I earned an associate of applied science degree through a community college. However, it has been nearly 20 years since I have been in a classroom. I would not have considered myself a confident student at all. In fact, I was quite anxious about returning to the classroom after such a break in my educational experience. WSP significantly boosted my confidence, and I am now very excited to continue my education! Had you participated in any sort of virtual learning before?

This was my first virtual learning experience. Why were you excited to participate in WSP this summer?

I looked forward to seeing how I could transition from soldier to student. WSP provided an exceptional opportunity to learn more about the transition and provide invaluable educational skills in reading, writing, and in the overall classroom experience. 

What have you learned so far that you think will be helpful as you pursue your degree?

Learning analytical reading and participating in the writing workshops were immensely useful. I will be able to use each of these skills to work towards my undergraduate and graduate degrees.

What was your favorite session, and why?

De-greening was my favorite session. It was during this session that I was able to learn how others had returned to the classroom, heard their experiences, and allowed me to gain an insight into what my own transition would look like in a few months' time.  Are there any instructors or fellows who have made a difference for you at WSP? Derek Auguste was a Fellow in my cohort at Syracuse. Not only did he review my paper and offer advice, but he also navigated the world of Zoom with ease. He made me feel comfortable with the other students, provided his university experiences, and was overall an absolute gentleman. While the WSP experience would have been amazing without him, he really helped to send it over the top. I can't say enough good things about him. Is WSP having any effect on how confident you feel as a student?

WSP has made me feel that I will not only find success in the classroom, I will enjoy my university experience. Prior to WSP, I was apprehensive about returning to the classroom after nearly 20 years. Now, I simply cannot wait to begin my university experience.

Victoria Zetterkvist, U.S. Army veteran


Victoria Zetterkvist

What was your educational experience prior to WSP? Would you consider yourself a confident student?

Prior to WSP, I had been out of school for over seven years. I was contemplating going back but felt unprepared and a little intimidated to go back and compete with younger students who didn't have any breaks in education. After participating in WSP, I feel much more confident about deciding to pursue education.

Had you participated in any sort of virtual learning before? If so, how does your WSP experience compare to that?

WSP did a phenomenal job transitioning to a virtual learning environment.  Utilizing Zoom helped maintain the integrity of being in person in the class. We were able to listen and discuss content very naturally. I think the format was better than any online class I've had before where you could only participate by writing responses.

Why were you excited to participate in WSP this summer?

I was really looking forward to attending WSP because I wanted to refresh all the different skill sets needed to excel in school, in particular, writing. Having been out of school so long, before I could register for Fall 2020 classes, I had to take a writing placement test. The Syracuse WSP writing professors and tutors really helped me regain confidence in my abilities. I just took my English Comprehension and Writing placement test and tested in the 90th percentile so I don't have to take any remedial courses, I don't think I would have done as well had I not participated in WSP. Big thank you to the writing professors!

What was your favorite session, and why?

I enjoyed the first seminar with Prof. Bennett immensely. Oddly enough, it was one of the sessions where I really didn't participate, I just sat back and listened. It was incredible to just listen to someone so knowledgeable talk.

Is WSP having any effect on how confident you feel as a student?

Yes. Before WSP, I had decided to go back to school, because I knew it was the path I needed to take to become a social worker, but I viewed it as something I had to do, not necessarily something I really wanted to do. The WSP program at Syracuse University was amazing and reignited my passion for learning. Now I'm excited for school to start, and I know that it's an environment I will thrive in.

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