The East Carolina University Distinguished Military Service Society has created a new scholarship for an Army ROTC and an Air Force ROTC cadet in the College of Health and Human Performance.
The DMSS has been a part of campus since 2008, and members have given their own scholarship contributions through the organization, but this year will be the first in which the society itself awards a scholarship.
"National ROTC scholarships are only awarded to a small percentage of the cadets participating in ECU ROTC programs," said Tim Wiseman, assistant vice chancellor for enterprise risk management and military programs at ECU. "By instituting the Distinguished Military Service Society scholarships, we have effectively broadened the base of financial support and opened the door to many more cadets to help offset their college expenses."
Last year, Air Force ROTC cadet Chresty Xiong received the Dutch Holland Scholarship through the society. She's a biology major and plans to become an OB/GYN for the Air Force. The Holland Scholarship and others have allowed her to attend ECU debt-free.
"It shows that there are people who believe and are supporting me, and this makes me feel limitless," Xiong said. "I am grateful for every opportunity that I have been presented with and grateful for the donors who see potential in me." Holland '75 is a member of the DMSS. He and his wife needed financial aid to attend East Carolina and then went on to have successful careers in the Air Force. They understand how people can excel when given support.
"It is a chance for us to give back to two institutions that helped us tremendously as young adults become productive citizens-ECU and the USAF-as well as giving the individual recipient an opportunity to aim high," Holland said.
Every year, the DMSS honors ECU students, faculty and staff who have served the country and recognizes them during the Military Appreciation football game. This year's ceremony and game took place Nov. 12, recognizing Stephen M.Blizzard '85, James R. Gorham '81 and James C. Thomas '56.
At 44 years old, Nate Mentink '15 is starting over.
For 20 years, Mentink was in the Marines and retired as a major Sept. 1. He specialized in logistics and supply-chain management and would like to do something similar in his new civilian career. Even though he has bachelor's and master's degrees, he took part in the three-week Tools for Advanced Manufacturing for Veterans program at Craven Community College in New Bern.
"It's one of those things that puts another tool in my tool belt," Mentink said. TAMV is a collaboration between ECU and the North Carolina Community College System to educate veterans who are transitioning to civilian life. This program also helps local manufacturers gain a quality workforce.
"This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity for higher education to help veterans successfully transition to civilian life and to bolster our region's workforce with technically skilled and leadership-oriented workers who have served their country," said Jim Menke, military research liason and project manager for Operation Re-entry North Carolina, which TAMV is a part of.
The program is possible through a $70,000 grant from the Duke Energy Foundation. Nearly 300 veterans have received job training.
"Veterans bring critical skills and experience to North Carolina's workforce," said David Fountain, president of Duke Energy North Carolina. "We're proud to support ECU's Tools for Advanced Manufacturing for Veterans program and its goal of successfully connecting returning service members with careertraining opportunities in the manufacturing industry."