Crystal City, Virginia
April 14, 2019
April 14, 2019
April 22, 2019
Diversity and Collegiate
Military careers and student life have stark differences. No matter each veteran’s military experiences, the transition from military to college may be fraught with unexpected challenges. Student veterans with disabilities may face additional challenges that uniquely differentiate them from other students. This exploratory research study aims to develop a deeper understanding of the experiences of engineering student veterans with service-connected disabilities as they transition into higher education. To investigate these transitions, we utilized semi-structured narrative interviews with three sophomore engineering students, each with levels of service-connected disability exceeding 30 percent and purposively selected for maximum variability across particular demographic characteristics. In this thematic analysis, we explored the rich narratives of the students’ transitions from military service to becoming undergraduate engineering students by organizing the themes as they mapped to the Schlossberg Transition Theory. Analysis of the interview data showed that student veterans with disabilities face unique challenges both inside and outside the classroom due to dramatic changes in their social support systems and the existence of service-connected disability. However, these students aspire to be successful against all odds, have an elevated work ethic, and employ a heightened level of leadership, teaming, and communication. These assets can be invaluable for student veterans and their peers as they pursue careers in engineering. Results thus indicate that student veterans’ military time and training do lend themselves as useful tools in navigating the transition to undergraduate engineering and ensuring success as engineering students. The identification of these unique skills and challenges affords us a better chance to understand these aspects of transition and to facilitate change that better supports future student veterans with disabilities.
Sheppard, M. S., & Kellam, N. N., & Brunhaver, S. R. (2019, April), Exploring the Unique Skills and Challenges that Veterans with Disabilities Bring to College: A Qualitative Study in Engineering Paper presented at 2019 CoNECD - The Collaborative Network for Engineering and Computing Diversity , Crystal City, Virginia. https://peer.asee.org/31763
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