Battlefield to classroom: Program helps vets pursue higher education

NOTRE DAME, Ind. (WNDU) - Transitioning from the military back into the real world is not always easy, but there is a program here to help.

The Warrior-Scholar Project, or WSP, is a two-week academic boot camp, helping enlisted veterans and service members who want to return to school.

Santos Gil joined the Marine Corps a few years back, serving in places like Thailand, Korea and the Philippines.

“There were a lot of hardships overseas. They weren't combat-related at all. They were just being away from home, being in a new environment and trying to learn something new. At the same time, you are taking on leadership positions at a very young age,” Gil said.

Gil is now pursing higher education.

“I really want to go after a STEM degree, so anything specifically physics or engineering,” Gil stated.

WSP, a national nonprofit, teaches participants skills like analytical reading, writing and problem-solving and offers pointers and feedback needed to complete a four-year undergraduate program.

“For me, it elevated my dreams,” Assistant WSP Program Director Eric Winenger said.

Winenger went through the program and is now helping participants. He is also a student at the University of Notre Dame.

“You know, it's a tough two weeks. It's a lot of work. A lot of late nights, but I know it's a lot of fun too,” Winenger stated.

Each boot camp is run by WSP staff and alumni-student veterans. Classes are taught by university professors and graduate students.

“You leave with a larger sense of yourself. You feel more confident to tackle this transition,” Winenger said.

The boot camp is free.

Some participants are already going through the college application process and will be meeting with college admissions counselors during the boot camp. About 300 individuals across the country are participating in the program this year.