Warrior-Scholar Project aims to help veterans make academic progress

Photo courtesy of Warrior-Scholar Project | Jesse Ramirez

The Warrior-Scholar Project returns for its third year at USC to provide a week-long academic training and guidance for veterans of the United States Armed Forces.

Dubbed a “boot camp” by the Los Angeles Times, the program is intense, filled with rigorous lectures and discussions. When asked what sets the Warrior-Scholar Project apart from other veterans’ programs, Amy Page, the program’s curriculum manager at USC, had a straightforward response.

“We actually do what we say we’re going to do,” Page said.

The Warrior-Scholar Project aims to facilitate a smooth transition from military life to collegiate life for veterans, integrating them into a regular school environment.

The USC chapter currently has 20 students,  ranging in age from early 20s to late 50s. Regardless of age, the program aims to help participants become more well-informed and confident intellectuals in the field of academics.

Although the Warrior-Scholar Project is only one week long, its veterans become immersed in their fields of study. According to Page, their academic lectures are open-ended, encouraging discussion among the students.

The lecture topics are centered on democracy and its manifestations in the United States in recent years. While discussing various political, economic and social issues, the students spoke about their observations and perspectives of society.

“In the military, we’re molded to act one way,” said Jonathan Anda, a five-year veteran participant of the program. “Now, though, we need to know how to put things in perspective.”

Before the program, Anda said he had a mindset geared only toward following orders, working to maximize conciseness and efficiency. Now, he feels more creative and open-minded.

Almost every individual involved in facilitating or managing the Warrior-Scholar Project has either served in the military or is a family member of someone who has. Because of this, the students feel that the instructors are especially helpful.

“The best way to describe this program is that it’s truly for the veterans by the veterans,” said Angel Arambula, a four-year veteran participant.

Alumni of the program also drop by the week-long session and help to instill confidence in the current generation of students.

Matt Maclaine is a five-year veteran and an alumni ambassador to the Warrior-Scholar Project. He attended the program as a student in 2013 at Yale’s campus and is currently an aerospace engineering student at UC Irvine. Now, he returns as a mentor for his fellow servicemen and women.

Maclaine emphasized that the program benefited him greatly.

“Skills like analytical writing have really set us up for success,” Maclaine said. “All veterans need to hear about this program.”