Willis Bunkley ’12 had been a Carrier Corporation employee for ten years when the company decided to move its operations out of Syracuse. The Vietnam veteran found himself in a state of uncertainty. “After weighing my options, I wanted to ensure that this never happened again,” he recalls. He knew that furthering his education was a good way to promote future employment security, so he enrolled in college part time at UC. “I was scared and nervous about my chances of being successful, but I found the atmosphere at UC to be inviting and friendly, “ he recalls.
Willis had been out of school for decades, and had experienced the trauma of war in the interim. His needs were different from the average undergraduate. Syracuse University, which has a long history of service to military veterans, was able to accommodate his personal and social needs as well as his academic requirements. SU has been named a Military Friendly School by GI Jobs magazine, and offers a variety of programs and services to help veterans achieve their academic goals.
The Veterans Lounge on the third floor of University College has become a welcoming haven for Willis. “It’s a place where veterans can study, interact, get answers and share concerns,” he says. “It’s a tool veterans can use to help ensure success in their educational journey.”
Something Willis discovered when he returned to school is that making a difference often means adapting to change. “When I first enrolled at UC, it took me almost an entire semester to comprehend the Blackboard (learning management) computer system,” he recalls. “Thanks to UC accommodations, I am now computer literate. My UC experience has changed my perspective, my view of life,” he adds. “It’s been rewarding.”