Warrior-Scholar Project Harvard 2020 Cohort Spotlight: Britney Domine and Oleg Pavliv

Updated: Aug 6

Britney Domine, U.S. Navy veteran


Britney Domine

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

I am currently going into my senior year at San Diego State University. I began taking college classes during my sophomore year of high school, did one year of college before deciding to join the Navy, and after six years of active duty, I went back to college in 2017.

I would say that I am confident in my ability to be successful, that as long as I am willing to put in the work, I can reap the rewards and achieve what I want as a student and in my future career.

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

I have participated in virtual learning as SDSU began using Zoom in March when they decided to go online for our classes. I really enjoyed the WSP virtual experience and I think the short and long breaks really helped with trying to keep from getting that burnout of staring at a computer screen all day.


Why were you excited to participate in WSP this summer?

I was excited to participate because I really wanted to surround myself with successful student veterans and learn from them as well as give my own insights into being a college student and a veteran. I knew it was going to be challenging but I was enthusiastic about learning skills to become a better and more successful student.


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

I have learned that it’s okay that I didn’t go the same path as some of my fellow classmates and that not everyone goes straight from high school to college and to a career. That my time as an active-duty sailor and my life experience is valued by both professors and students and that I have as much to give as I have to learn from them.


What was your favorite session, and why?

I really loved the lectures and seminars with the professors. It made me feel like I really was in a Harvard class.  Knowing how prestigious the institution is and how the professors are the top in their field made me feel very confident in myself for being able to participate.


Are there any instructors or fellows who have made a difference for you at WSP?

As a fellow, Eric really made me feel like I was still welcome in the program even as a student veteran who is a little further along in their education than most WSP participants. He was very encouraging and I appreciated feeling like he genuinely wanted me and all of the participants to succeed and that he will be a constant ally. All three professors--Hansen, Kloppenberg, and Monaghan--were so welcoming and encouraging in all of our educational pursuits. I greatly appreciated that they treated us as students who have the caliber to be in an Ivy-League class and didn’t “dumb” anything down.


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

I would say that WSP has given me confidence in my educational pursuits by giving me various resources such as books and multiple points of contact to reach out to with any questions or guidance needs. I also feel confident that I have an entire network of people to reach out to. I now know that my military experience is valued as a student and that I can take those experiences and channel my strengths into my school work and go on to anywhere I want, even an Ivy League.


Oleg Pavliv, U.S. Army veteran


Oleg Pavliv

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

I graduated from Fort Myers High School in Florida in 2011. While my grades were decent, I have never considered myself a strong student. During my military career, I have taken a couple of academic courses focused on medicine, which I got through using grit rather than any effective study habits. Being fortunate enough to be admitted to Harvard College Class of 2024, I felt unprepared for the rigorous coursework I would encounter there.


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

The only college course I have taken remotely was a precalculus course I took in the last couple months of my active-duty service. The course wasn’t conducive to effective learning and the only interaction I had with my classmates and the professor was through the online forum. Transitioning from the military to a college during the pandemic, I was concerned about the prospects of remote learning, but I realized quickly that WSP virtual programming is in a class of its own. Throughout the daily Zoom seminars, the study groups and the one-on-one sessions, I was impressed by how seamless and effective the virtual learning experience could be. Ultimately, WSP gave me the confidence to succeed as I begin my college education in a virtual learning environment.


Why were you excited to participate in WSP this summer?

During my college application process, I kept hearing great things about Warrior-Scholar Project and how well academically prepared WSP alumni felt after completing the rigorous course. I was tremendously excited to be a part of the program myself this summer. I have chosen WSP at Harvard specifically to get to know some of the faculty at the school, since I didn’t have a chance to visit the campus before enrolling.


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

The most valuable skills I have learned at WSP Harvard were effective critical reading and writing. Before, I didn’t have any idea how to coherently approach a literary work, let alone write an argumentative essay about it. Through the writing classes and small group writing workshops, my understanding of the writing process improved greatly, which will undoubtedly play a significant role in both humanities and STEM classes I will take in the future.


What was your favorite session, and why?

Discussing topics in seminars led by Harvard professors was my favorite part of WSP. It was an opportunity to hone my ideas and arrive at new ones through discussions with fellow classmates and professors. I also felt the topics of democracy in America and the civilian-military divide were well chosen and pertinent to the role that student veterans play on campuses.


Are there any instructors or fellows who have made a difference for you at WSP?

It is not easy to pinpoint a specific person, as everyone was outstanding and played their role in making the course happen superbly. Personally, though, Michael Ortiz and Margaret Rennix had the biggest impact on my academic growth during the class. They have provided me the tools and the feedback during the many hours I have spent developing and revising my essay. I am grateful for the time they have volunteered to empower student veterans and I look forward to staying in touch with them and the rest of the WSP Harvard faculty throughout my academic journey at Harvard.


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

Participating in Warrior-Scholar Project at Harvard has significantly increased my academic confidence as I prepare to start my undergraduate education. As an immigrant, a first-generation college student, and a veteran, I felt academically unprepared compared to the traditional students. WSP gave me the confidence and skills necessary for success and being an effective member of the academic community. I am grateful for the relationships I have developed with my WSP Harvard classmates and fellows and I look forward to staying involved with WSP in the future.

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