Training. Mission accomplishment. Structure. Discipline. Integrity. Dedication. These are just a few of the key components of military culture that students can apply to their daily coursework.

People tend to flourish in familiar or comfortable surroundings, so translating familiar terms and practices from military life to the classroom can make all the difference in the world for most military students.

Training is learning, and learning is education. Mission accomplishment means getting the job done and finishing a class or term, or graduating. Terms such as cadence, or weekly structure, help provide military students the same structure they are used to in their military lives. Discipline is adhering to course deadlines and completing assignments even when life gets in the way. Integrity applies to doing honest work to the best of one’s ability. Dedication is being committed to something, willing to see it through to completion.

But what about other components, such as persistence and resilience, for example? These words can be a bit tougher to define in the classroom setting.

Persistence, to paraphrase one Webster’s Dictionary definition, is to go on resolutely or stubbornly in spite of opposition.

When military commitments and home life start to distract from or interfere with coursework, one must resolutely and stubbornly work onto complete the coursework in spite of the obstacles, and ultimately graduate with a degree. Soldiers don’t let obstacles interfere with mission accomplishment. They adapt and persist to achieve the goal. The same applies to schoolwork and earning a degree.

Considering yet another definition from Webster’s Dictionary, resilience is “the ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change.”

Life happens. It can knock you down and make it feel like you’re up against insurmountable odds. But your ability to get back up, brush yourself off and keep moving forward – being resilient – is a hallmark of all service members pledged to wear the uniform and defend this country. The same applies to achieving your degree. Life changes, military deployments, and many other things will try to knock you down and prevent you from achieving the goal of earning a college education. But staying resilient is the only way to ensure you reach the finish line and grasp the prize of that degree.

Knowing that military students face numerous challenges on a daily basis that test their persistence and resilience, Grantham University has introduced the Commander Everett Alvarez, Jr. Resilience Scholarship to active duty and select reserve military students who use military Tuition Assistance (TA) to fund the majority of their coursework.

The scholarship grants service members up to $1,000 to continue taking courses at Grantham if their annual TA allowance is exhausted. It helps bridge the gap to allow military students to continue working toward their degrees until TA is renewed at the beginning of each fiscal year in October. It provides military students a way to remain resilient and persist in continuing their education.

The inspiration for the scholarship, Commander Everett Alvarez, Jr., U.S. Navy (Ret.), personifies the definitions of persistence and resilience.

Alvarez, a former Navy pilot, spent eight years as the first and longest-held prisoner of war for the United States during Vietnam. He was held in North Vietnam from Aug. 4, 1964 until the general release of all American prisoners from the country on Feb. 12, 1973. He attributes communication between fellow prisoners, and his faith, as keys to his survival and helping him persist and remain resilient.

Now a lawyer, author of several books, entrepreneur and former deputy administrator of the Veterans Administration, Alvarez serves on the Grantham University Board of Governors.

Not only does the scholarship honor Cmdr. Alvarez, it honors all service members striving to pursue their education by helping them overcome obstacles along the way. It’s an extension of Grantham’s commitment to give back and “serve those who serve” by continually trying to find new and innovative ways to help military students achieve their educational goals despite sometimes overwhelming odds.

Visit the Grantham website to learn more about the scholarship and Cmdr. Alvarez.

Brandon Swenson

About Brandon Swenson

Brandon Swenson, Senior Communications Specialist, is on Grantham's editorial board. He understands the benefits of educationally-oriented programs such as the Post 9/11 GI Bill having earned his Bachelor's degree from the University of Missouri-Kansas City toward the end of his nearly two decades of service in the United States Marine Corp.  

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