Stories

Soldiering On...Now As Students

With the United States engaged in military conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, this year's Veterans Day takes on an especially powerful meaning as we consider the women and men who serve and have served in our armed forces. Nazareth College has been notably responsive to the veterans who have joined its student body, meeting their needs however possible.

"We currently have approximately 35 veterans on campus," says registrar Nancy Grear. "That's 12 or so more than usual." These students find support through the Nazareth Veterans Scholarship, established in 2008, and the Yellow Ribbon Program, in which Nazareth works with the Department of Veteran Affairs to fund tuition for eligible candidates. "Nazareth is definitely a veteran-friendly school," says Bob Mitchell, a program coordinator with Rochester's Veterans Outreach Center, which partners with Nazareth to counsel and assist student veterans.

Candice Kundle is one such veteran now pursuing her education at Nazareth. Long Islander Kundle enlisted in the Air Force in 2000 with a private pilot's license, spending the next five years with a specialty unit at McGuire Air Force Base. "It was amazing," Kundle says. "We went to dirt strips throughout the Middle East and Africa, bringing in supplies and troops." Kundle's next stint found her working with coalition forces out of Qatar. After eight years in the Air Force, Kundle chose not to reenlist, opting instead to return to college to study nursing. "I'm trading in one uniform for another," she jokes. She moved to Rochester to be near relatives, initially enrolling in Monroe Community College. "Then I went to see a play at Nazareth and was just floored," she recalls. "The more I explored Nazareth, the more I saw how supportive it was. In that respect, it reminded me of being on a base."

Christopher Gladstone is another veteran whose life journey has led him to Nazareth. Born and raised in Kansas, Gladstone, a junior majoring in psychology and inclusive education, joined the army two years after graduating from high school, largely in response to 9/11. "I felt I should help out as much as I could," he says. He spent five years working in the area of military intelligence in Korea, Iraq, and other locations. Upon leaving the military, he moved to upstate New York, studying first at Finger Lakes Community College, where he made Phi Beta Kappa, and then enrolling at Nazareth. "I heard Nazareth had one of the best teaching programs in the country," Gladstone says, "and ever since high school, I've wanted to be a teacher. My mom was a single parent and I remember the effect my first male teacher had on me. He taught me so much and I've always wanted to repay that favor."

Heather Gray is another veteran at Nazareth whose goal is to help others. A Nebraska native majoring in social work and psychology, Gray enlisted in the Army reserves in 2004, right out of high school, and was deployed to South Korea in 2006. In Iraq, she served on a retribution team, interviewing civilians about loss of life, limb, and livestock. Gray was injured in January 2009 when her convoy was ambushed, but has made a complete recovery and is still eligible for deployment. Her military experience has interested her in the area of international human rights. "I'd like to work with government officials in war-torn countries, helping local populations," she says.

Nazareth College is enriched by the presence of its student veterans and salutes them as our nation marks their immeasurable contributions.

"We are proud of our returning troops," says Nazareth President Daan Braveman, "and our college community is lucky to have the talents of these young men and women as they prepare for the next step of their lives and careers."

Candice Kundle

"I'm trading in one uniform for another," says Kundle.

Christopher Gladstone

"I heard Nazareth had one of the best teaching programs in the country," Gladstone says, "and ever since high school, I've wanted to be a teacher."

Heather Gray

"I'd like to work with government officials in war-torn countries, helping local populations," says Gray.