The William A. Brookshire Military and Veterans Student Center opened its doors on Jan. 31 with a ribbon-cutting ceremony led by Gov. John Bel Edwards and LSU President F. King Alexander.
“It’s imperative that we can do everything we can to help out veterans,” Edwards said.
Sitting behind the LSU Student Union on Veterans Drive, the new Brookshire Student serves the University’s veteran population. According to the center, there are 507 student veterans on campus. Of the 507 veterans, 59 are graduate students and 12 are attending the LSU Paul M. Hebert Law School.
The mission of the Brookshire Student Center is to promote the academic success of student veterans, service members and dependents at the University. The center’s programs focus on three key initiatives: academic, personal and career development.
The Student Veterans of Louisiana State University program has grown remarkably over the last five years. The previous veteran student center was located on the third floor of Hatcher Hall and served as little as seven to eight students, according to Brookshire Student Center Program Director Sachiko Cleveland. Cleveland said the new Brookshire Center serves about 30 students on a daily basis.
The facility has a computer lab, study lounge, free tutoring service and textbooks for the student veterans. Any student can donate textbooks to the Brookshire Center. Twice a month, there are Lunch and Learn workshops in the center’s multi-purpose room.
Marine Corps veteran and software engineering sophomore Daniel Serra said he noticed the improvement the Brookshire location is over the old center in Hatcher Hall.
“I was here when we were up in Hatcher. That was pretty hard to find and very select individuals went up there,” Serra said. “This is a more prominent location on campus, so we will draw more faces in. It will definitely help out more in that way.”
The most common majors for veterans on campus are in the STEM fields, according to the Brookshire Center. As part of the center’s career development programs, the center offers a resume writing workshop and mock interview panels to prepare veterans for life after the University. Along with career counseling, the center also advises students on veterans benefits they receive.
“I hope more veterans will come and show their face at the student center,” Serra said. “They can contribute to the center’s growth.”
Cleveland said she believes the most difficult aspect of college life for military veterans is the transition. Veterans must go from the structured organization of the military to independent, educational atmosphere of college. An important goal of the center is to help veterans connect and interact with others on campus and establish a sense of camaraderie on a peer-to-peer basis.
The growth of the University’s veteran program has increased greatly over the last five years, but Cleveland and the program still have their eyes to the future, hoping to grow and better the lives of the University’s veteran population.