Chelsea O'Brien, Communications Co-Chair
January 2, 2018
Dr. Marsha Guenzler-Stevens
Unleashing the Stories: Creating a Community of Care for Veterans
What begins as a single story – bravely shared – can have transformative power for the storyteller and for those that listen. For over twenty years Marsha Guenzler-Stevens was engaged in the Vietnam Women’s Memorial in Washington D.C., planning programs that would help to unleash the stories of women who served in the military and as civilians during the Vietnam era. But, her life as a Student Affairs educator at the University of Maryland and her role as an advocate for Veterans didn’t intersect until a young Student Veteran told her of his experiences at Maryland. The transition was rocky, the institutional response was substandard, and the possibility to transform the institution to meet the needs of this young Veteran and many to follow was limitless. Almost fifteen years ago the University of Maryland began a process of creating a community of care for Student Veterans. Supported by a Federal grant, colleagues from across the campus, alumni, donors, and an engaged Student Veteran community – the University has been changed by a single story. Transforming policies, practice, services, physical centers, financial support, admissions and recruitment, and partnerships have all yielded an enlivening Veterans community and an enhanced educational institution. This Student Affairs educator shares her story and those of the beloved Student Veterans at the University of Maryland as we talk about institutional – and personal – transformation.
Your Life as Story: How Viewing Life through the Lens of a Storyteller Empowers Growth
Discussions regarding how best to serve the often complex and challenging transitional needs of student-veterans and their families to academia are necessary and well meaning. However, these discussions often stem from a stereotypical concept that those with military experience are somehow damaged. As a Marine who served ten years during the 1980s, Tracy Crow was 42 before returning to college life to complete her degree and by 46 she had completed her Masters of Fine Arts and was teaching full time. Unfortunately, whether experiencing academia as a student-veteran, an advisor, or as a member of the faculty, she often encountered rampant, misguided assumptions because of her status as a military veteran. To build bridges of trust and understanding with her students and faculty peers, Tracy employed the critical thinking and professional storytelling skills she gained and honed through a liberal arts education, discovering firsthand that when we apply a storyteller’s lens of understanding about the four levels of conflict in life, we gain a deeper appreciation for our past, an astute awareness of the present, and the benevolent opportunity to rewrite the story of our future.
Tapping into your Passion to Overcome Adversity
Earl Granville joined the Pennsylvania Army National Guard for benefits alongside his twin brother in their senior year of high school. During basic training, the acts of September 11th occurred and he realized this wasn't about him anymore, it was to be a part of something bigger than himself. During his time in combat, he developed a passion for wearing the uniform. On his third tour, he lost his leg from a roadside bomb in Afghanistan, and even more tragically, lost his twin brother, Army SSG Joe Granville, shortly thereafter to suicide while. Join us as we hear from Earl as he discusses the lessons learned to overcome adversity through a passion for helping others challenge themselves, find their own passion, and continue to be a part of something bigger than themselves.
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