GV announces Veteran Promise, guarantees admission to enlisted 2021 Michigan high school graduates


Photo courtesy of Dottie Barnes, University Communications

Kellen Voss, Print Associate Editor

On Wednesday, Nov. 11, Grand Valley State University President Philomena Mantella announced an initiative that guarantees admission to GVSU for enlisted 2021 Michigan high school graduates.

The GVSU Veteran Promise guarantees that all 2021 Michigan high school graduates — public or private — who have signed enlistment papers to serve in the U.S. military for at least two years are reserved a spot at GVSU upon exit of their service. There will also be options available for veterans to begin taking GVSU classes online during their active duty years.

Mantella announced the initiative during the GVSU President’s Annual Veterans Day Breakfast, held over Zoom Wednesday. She said the GVSU Veteran Promise is another way to build on the university’s consistent commitment to veterans.

“We are blessed that our veterans, who put service to country above all else, bring that commitment home as service to their communities,” Mantella said. “Some veterans face unique challenges transitioning to civilian life. Offering guaranteed admission to 2021 Michigan high school graduates to attend GVSU eliminates the worry about being accepted to college.”

Complementary of veterans at the breakfast, Mantella cited the military training, character and dedication student veterans bring to campus as a way to provide new opportunities for classroom discussions, campus diversity and access to a pool of talented, multi-faceted students.

“As a university, we are committed to removing barriers to enrollment for a wide variety of populations and our veterans are no different,” Mantella said. “I’m proud that Grand Valley will support this generation of veterans.”

Mantella said she has prioritized student veterans in her time at GVSU, as last year, she strengthened support for more than 300 student veterans by creating a position for a military and veteran resource manager. That position was filled in July by Jill Wolfe, an Army veteran and GVSU alumna.

GVSU has earned national recognition in recent years for their veteran support. The school was listed as a Best for Veterans among Midwest universities in U.S. News & World Report’s 2021 Best Colleges rankings, and was named a gold level, “military friendly” university by the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency for the fifth year.

The keynote speaker at the breakfast was Jared Lyon, National President & CEO of Student Veterans of America and U.S. Navy veteran. 

Lyon said nearly 200,000 service members become veterans each year, and more than 57% of those veterans are in a college classroom within seven months of separation from the military, with the majority of those returning to their home state for college.

“With this first-of-its-kind Veteran Promise, Grand Valley State will ensure student veterans are valued, welcomed and supported from the moment they step on campus,” Lyon said. “We congratulate GVSU on this unique commitment to veteran inclusivity that begins for future service members as soon as they graduate from high school.”

GVSU student veteran Cameron Zbikowski, president of Laker Vets, said President Mantella’s Veteran Promise is another great example of the investment GVSU has made in supporting military and veteran-affiliated students.

“Laker veterans are leaders and innovators in spreading the Laker Effect through study abroad, national conferences, entrepreneurship labs and fellowship programs,” Zbikowski said. “I am exceptionally proud to be a Laker Vet and I look forward to continuing a robust partnership with Jared Lyon and our national headquarters in Washington D.C.”  

For more information about the GVSU Veteran Promise, visit www.gvsu.edu/vetpromise. Those looking to learn more about the Student Veterans Network can find more information at www.gvsu.edu/veterans.