Miami's student veterans bond over shared military experiences

More programs offered to support military-affiliated students

By Margo Kissell, university news and communications


Phillip Carr, right, in a kinesiology lab (photo by Scott Kissell).

His Army uniform and medals are packed away.

Instead of carrying a backpack filled with military gear, Phillip Carr now carries one filled with books for his classes at Miami University.

The senior double major in kinesiology and nutrition with a coaching minor plans to graduate in May after taking courses year-round. He has kept busy outside the classroom, too.

The former Army specialist is in his third term as president of the Student Veterans Association (SVA) on the Oxford campus. He enjoys connecting with student veterans and helping them adjust to college life. The SVA’s mission is to make sure they succeed on campus and graduate, so they can do well in their careers.

For his efforts on behalf of student veterans, Carr was awarded an Unsung Hero Award at Miami’s Unity in the Community event in September.

Janet Mallen, senior assistant director for the Student Success Center and a staff adviser to SVA, nominated him for his efforts to help expand assistance and policies for military-affiliated students.

For example, a proposal he submitted to the bursar’s office to create a tuition payment plan for those with payment delays from the Department of Veterans Affairs was accepted and is now policy.

“I enjoy being behind the scenes and making the change,” said Carr, 27, of Towanda, Pa., who, like many other veterans, is here on the Post-9/11 GI Bill.

Miami ranks as one of nation’s Best Colleges for Veterans

Carr served as an Army military police officer from 2007-2012 and was in the Army Reserve from 2013-2014. He was stationed at Fort Meyer, Va., with the official Army Honor Guard and escort to the president. He worked with the U.S. Secret Service to sweep and secure Arlington National Cemetery for the president, vice president and foreign dignitaries for events such as wreath-laying ceremonies.


Phillip Carr (center) receiving an Army achievement medal in 2011.

Carr is one of 104 registered members of the SVA in Oxford; other military affiliated students at Miami’s regional campuses are involved in SVA chapters in Hamilton and Middletown.

“We’re doing outreach right now to bring them together a little more, to work together and be stronger as a whole,” Carr said.

Miami was just named a “Military Friendly School” for 2017, a title it has earned for eight straight years.

U.S. News and World Report this fall has Miami tied at 47th in its annual list of Best Colleges for Veterans. Universities listed met certain criteria, such as public schools charging in-state tuition for out-of-state veterans.

Carr and SVA vice president, Adam Rose, a senior political science major, are always on the lookout for others to invite them to cookouts, other social gatherings and meetings.

“The community is there for them and maybe they’re not aware of it,” said Carr, who is involved in the “Have you served?” campaign, which kicked off this month to help military-affiliated students feel more comfortable about their status on campus.

“It’s a relationship like no other”


Student veteran Emma Wott

Emma Wott, a sophomore theatre major and comparative religion minor, served in the Marine Corps from 2011-2015. She was a corporal who worked as a barracks manager/embarkation specialist.

Wott, also here on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, will speak Friday at Oxford’s Veterans Day ceremony about the kinship veterans share.

“No matter how old or young, we always somehow find a way to connect and bond," she said. "It’s a relationship like no other.”

She wanted to come to Miami since she was 14 because her mother is a Miami alumna.  Getting here “took longer than I thought, from taking a detour into the service, but I finally made it,” she said.

Wott said she loves college life, the small town feel of Oxford, and the Student Veterans Association. 

“It’s hard coming to college when you’re older, harder when you’ve been through certain experiences that only few know about,” she said. “It’s created a brotherhood/sisterhood for me being able to find those who understand where I come from.”

Their Miami experiences are preparing them for the future.

Wott wants to become a lighting designer or stage manager. Carr, a certified personal trainer, has been an intern with Miami’s strength conditioning department since last year. He works with athletes from 10 sports teams.

This winter, over break, he and his business partner (a former military buddy) plan to open a gym in Gladwin, Mich. While Carr is focused on the future, he’s also making sure there is a next generation of SVA leaders ready to step up after he and Rose graduate in the spring.

"We’re always recruiting for the organization but definitely looking for people to take charge and continue making a change and a difference for our brothers and sisters,” he said.

Miami doing more to support military-affiliated students

Marine Capt. Bill Pendergast (Miami '07) talks with President Crawford about his Miami days and military experience.

Mallen noted the term military-affiliated students encompasses veterans separated from service; those actively serving in Guard and Reserve units; military dependents and ROTC members; and a small number of students on active duty who are taking classes on campus.

Highlights of some new efforts on campus:

  • An SVA center, located in 315-C and 315-D Laws Hall.
  • A Military Assistance Group that Mallen formed last year to offer connections, support and resources. It’s a cohesive network of people that meets regularly to discuss ways to support military-affiliated students.
  • An ongoing partnership with Career Services to ramp up resume workshops, meetings with employers and connecting military-affiliated students with career fairs.
  • The Green Zone program that Carr and several other members of SVA started on campus this year. The goal is to educate others about military-affiliated student experiences and to create a visible network of staff and faculty who attend Green Zone workshops the SVA facilitates through the Center for Teaching Excellence.