Season 3 Episode 134: The Journey from Infantry to Education with Mike Brown


Michael Brown joined the Army right out of high school because he knew he wasn’t ready for college. After serving 4 years as an infantryman, Michael separated and used his GI Bill to attend Northern Michigan University. Earning a degree in political science and applied ethics, he went on to work for then Congressman-elect, Patrick Murphy, the first Iraq War Veteran ever elected to Congress. Michael served as his Military and Veterans Affairs Director where he supported projects such as the revision and updates of the Post 9/11 GI Bill. He then went on to serve as the Director of Veterans Services for Montgomery County Community College before accepting a role at Villanova University as the first Director of the Office of Veterans and Military Service Members. Since 2018, Michael has been growing the programs, opportunities and community at the university for students and alumni.


Choosing to attend college in person, Michael was often the oldest student in his classes. However, he did not allow that to deter him from continuing his degree program. He appreciated learning different perspectives from other students and professors. College helped Michael learn what he liked, didn’t like and how he fit into the world. It provided him with a longer landing strip to transition.


The Post 9/11 GI Bill offers a maximum benefit of 36 months of education and housing allowance. Michael encourages service members to start taking college courses while they are serving. Not only can they utilize Tuition Assistance without tapping into their GI Bill, but they will also earn credits toward a degree and lessen the amount of benefit they need from their GI Bill once they separate or retire from the military.


In Michael’s current role, he collaborates with career services and learning support services as well as working with the alumni network and college fundraising arm to ensure student veterans have the resources they need to be successful. Student veterans attend college because they need to upskill or reskill for a meaningful career after military service. By giving student veterans the opportunity to provide feedback about college services, Michael is able to find out what they want and need to be successful in the classroom and in the workforce. Michael focuses on finding quality internship opportunities and creates networking opportunities to help student veterans build a solid network.


Over the years, Mike has identified challenges that many student veterans face. First, many college campuses are more aligned with meeting the needs of the traditional 18–22-year-old student. In addition, it can be challenging for a veteran to develop an academic mindset. If you are a current student veteran or a prospective student, reach out to the college and inquire if a veteran office exists on campus.


A college education can teach a person about who they are and how they fit into society. Earning a degree involves learning and mastering new skills which should give the student confidence. Interacting with other students and professors will help the student build their professional network.


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