Serving those who’ve served

Nicole Barela-Vess, program development manager for the GCE, discusses the programs that Muhlenberg offers veterans and their families.

The outside view of Fahy Commons. Photo credit to Muhelnberg's Zenfolio.

On Nov. 10, Muhlenberg celebrated Veterans Day with the Muhlenberg College Division of Graduate and Continuing Education’s (GCE) Open House. At this event, not only were campus tours offered to allow individuals to experience Muhlenberg’s campus, but visitors had the opportunity to learn more about the College and its support for veterans and their families. Attendees were able to learn about the variety of Muhlenberg’s programs, the flexible course offerings and support services tailored to military-affiliated students. The resource fair was also held to explore the assets available to veterans and military families such as financial aid options and career development opportunities. 

Muhlenberg offers over 25 programs for veterans and their families. These include accelerated and traditional Bachelor’s degrees and teacher certifications that are offered in flexible scheduling options including hybrid learning, evening and weekend classes. This allows adult learners to pursue their education while balancing work and family life. Additionally, the School of Graduate Studies is committed to providing graduate education that enhances career outcomes and creates impactful experiences to develop each student’s capacity for a life of leadership, service and professional growth. Current undergraduates have the opportunity to take advantage of 4+1 programs for a Masters of Arts in Teaching and Masters of Applied Analytics. A Graduate Certificate in Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging (DEIB) and a Master’s in Organizational Leadership with concentrations in Human Resources, Non-Profit Leadership and DEIB are also offered. 

Nicole Barela-Vess, program development manager for GCE at the College and a captain of the Pennsylvania Army National Guard, US Army, is in charge of developing, improving and implementing new graduate programming and curriculum. These offerings aim to empower adult learners, non-traditional students and veteran, service member and military spouse communities. She expresses that “We offer veteran-friendly, service member-friendly and military spouse-friendly programming that fits their lifestyle and empowers success because we understand what it means to be an adult-learner, non-traditional student and what it means to serve. We serve those who serve!”

Muhlenberg also has a Yellow Ribbon Program, which allows veterans to complete their degree for free, with tuition and fees that are fully covered for veterans with 100 percent eligibility under the G.I. Bill. Muhlenberg’s Veterans Portal explains that the College “has partnered with the US Department of Veterans Affairs in offering this scholarship, which covers the difference between the cost of tuition and the reimbursed amount provided by the post 9/11 G.I. Bill, thereby covering 100% of the tuition for eligible veterans.” Barela-Vess added that “We have been a Yellow Ribbon Program institution for more than ten years. For two years in a row, the Division of Graduate and Continuing Education had been named a Military Friendly School by Victory Media, a nationally recognized service-disabled veteran-owned business. Recently, the Pennsylvania National Guard Association named us as a Guard-Friendly school.”

In addition to these numerous programs and opportunities that Muhlenberg has for veterans and their families, Barela-Vess said that “The Veteran, Service Member and Military Spouse is an awesome affinity group and often an underrepresented community– with their own language, systems and challenges– in higher education. It is very diverse within its own affinity group with a specific language and outlook that is sometimes hard to explain to others. Within its communities are members of other communities— LGBTQ+, Latinx, BIPOC, Asian American and Pacific Islander— all veterans. And their families, spouses and children serve too as they carry the load of service as well.” Clearly, Muhlenberg is extremely passionate about providing veterans and military families with programs and resources to allow them to continue their education and gain crucial life skills.

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