Celebrating Nontraditional Student Week: Nick Mobilia

Nick MobiliaNick Mobilia entered the Army in 2015, where he served as a combat engineer stationed at Fort Drum. While on active duty, he completed a tour in Afghanistan in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel. In 2017, Mobilia was recognized at the Pentagon by the Sergeant Major of the Army as a representative for the Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers (BOSS) program at Fort Drum. As a representative, he was selected to travel to Washington, D.C. to represent the 10th Mountain Division and to escort Gold Star Families at Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial Day. “It was what I consider my biggest accomplishment to date,” says Mobilia. “It was an incredibly humbling experience that I will never forget.”

Mobilia retired from the service in August. In January, while still on active duty, he was accepted into the Bachelor of Professional Studies program (B.P.S.) at University College and began his coursework for a degree in cybersecurity administration. “I chose this program because the digital world has become an increasingly dangerous place with more threats than ever before,” explains Mobilia. “Enrolling in this program to learn how to lead and manage teams that work to prevent, detect, and respond to cyber-attacks was incredibly appealing.” Mobilia said that while in the military, he quickly learned that cyberspace is becoming one of the world’s battlefields and that gaining knowledge and expertise in this field is very important for the future safety of our country.

Mobilia now uses what he learned in the military to be successful student. “The skills I apply to my life and my education are discipline and goal setting,” he says.  When he entered the military, Mobilia was told to set attainable goals for his career and develop specific strategies to accomplish them. “I learned that writing down my plan and taking a small step forward every day was the best way for me to meet my goal of becoming Sergeant. Breaking down a long-term goal into smaller pieces makes the process more rewarding and a lot less stressful,” says Mobilia.

The Cybersecurity Administration degree is fully online with a synchronous component. The weekly live session gives Mobilia the opportunity to learn and connect with students and professors from across the country. “So far, I love the program and am excited about my future with University College. My favorite part so far has been the small class size with thoughtful professors who really want us to learn.”

Like many part-time students, Mobilia juggles his coursework with work and other obligations and admits that time management has been his biggest challenge. “Working full time as an active duty soldier and studying was not easy,” he says. “I would have to look ahead at our training schedule and figure out ways to free up time each night for coursework while still being an active leader.”

“I learned so much from my time in the Army. I plan to take everything I learned and apply it to my studies at Syracuse University,” he says.

Celebrating Nontraditional Student Week: Jenna Bree

Jenna Bree

With a passion for storytelling and a strong work ethic, Jenna Bree began her time at Syracuse University as an S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications student in 2016. She quickly got involved in CitrusTV, a student-run television studio, as an assignment editor and reporter. Over the years, Jenna was promoted within the organization where she held positions as associate producer, executive producer, and weather anchor, all while maintaining other jobs on campus and keeping up with her academic responsibilities.

Bree is now in her final year at Syracuse University as a Broadcast and Digital Journalism major with a minor in Spanish. However, this year is different. Jenna is enrolled as a part-time student at University College (UC). For Bree, the decision to go part-time was simple; she only had 12 credits left to fulfill her Bachelor of Science degree. Currently, Bree utilizes the extra time she has as a part-time student to gain more experience in her field as a multi-media journalist for Spectrum News Central New York.

Bree finds that the biggest benefit of being a University College student is how she can structure her week to balance work and school. She spends her Mondays and Wednesdays completing her senior capstone and learning about human sexuality, while her Tuesdays and Thursdays are spent working for the news station, creating two to three stories for air each week, and reporting live on Spectrum News. Jenna expressed, “My biggest aspiration was to be on the live show at Spectrum at 4:30 p.m. Not having class at that time has let me do that,” says Bree. Without University College, Bree would not have time for this invaluable, hands-on work experience related to her degree.

Bree’s advice for students contemplating finishing their degree part-time is to do research on the UC website and have conversations with the academic advisors and financial aid counselors at University College. “I did a lot of research before I enrolled part-time so there’s not much I didn’t know,” Jenna says. She encourages other students who may want or need to finish their degree part-time or online to reach out to an advisor to help them make an informed decision on whether University College is the right fit for them as it was for them.

Celebrating Nontraditional Student Week: Joshua R. Kompf

Resilient, driven, dedicated, resolute and courageous are just a few words to describe University College student Joshua Kompf. As an Upstate New York native, Kompf always dreamed of attending Syracuse University, but serving our country delayed that dream. Kompf entered the United States Army at age 18 and, through hard work and determination, moved up the ranks to become a Green Beret—a member of the Special Forces.

Kompf had many responsibilities as a Green Beret, including interacting, training, and leading men from foreign armies into combat. “We are sent to some of the worst places in the world, usually only a few men strong, to share our knowledge and skills of warfare with people who lack the ability to defend themselves,” explains Kompf. “The leadership qualities and abilities I took away from my time in the U.S. Army will undoubtedly contribute to my success as a student.” Kompf believes that to be a great leader one must continuously learn and grow from both their successes and failures.

After his service in the Army, Kompf applied the leadership skills he learned and ventured into the small business world. He then knew it was time to pursue his dream of a college degree. These days, Kompf is working on a bachelor’s degree in creative leadership through University College. He’s now two semesters into the degree and has been able to interact with students from all walks of life. He’s learning how the coursework is applicable to his future goal of re-entering the small business world.

“The B.P.S. in Creative Leadership degree automatically lined up with my goals and prior leadership roles and experiences,” says Kompf. “Being a family man and having an array of other responsibilities, I knew I couldn’t attend Syracuse full time. However, part-time with UC allows me to easily manage my both my personal and professional life.”

Kompf’s family is proud of his decision to pursue higher education and as a first-generation college student, graduating from Syracuse University will be Kompf’s second greatest accomplishment in life—after his service in the Army as a Green Beret.

Celebrating Nontraditional Student Week: Katherine O’Neil Veley

Kate Veley PortraitKatherine O’Neil Veley joined the Syracuse University family 15 years ago as an administrative specialist. As an SU employee, she was able to use her tuition benefits to take classes in flexible formats while working fulltime at Falk College. Though Veley just retired as the event manager for Falk College, she is still working toward a bachelor of professional studies degree in Creative Leadership and is expected to graduate in May 2020.

As a first-generation college student Veley feels very fortunate for her opportunity to attend UC as a Syracuse University employee. But her path toward a degree has not been an easy one. Veley juggles work and family obligations while keeping up with her studies. To maintain her dean’s list status, Veley spends many hours a week on her academics. “For over a decade, I gave up my free time. There is always homework waiting to be done, or the opportunity to get ahead a bit,” says Veley. However, with the help of her advisor, she was able to balance her multitude of responsibilities. “In an effort to have a minimal impact on my job schedule, I took a lot of evening and online classes,” Veley explains. Luckily, her son and husband have both been extremely supportive and encouraging of Veley’s desire for a college degree. “They are very understanding when we’ve needed to schedule family vacations around homework and class schedules,” she says. Also, knowing other adult students were working with the same challenges of balancing life and schoolwork was valuable. “It’s nice to know people know what you’re going through,” she says. “There’s a lot of support and understanding there.”

Veley’s part-time study at UC and professional and personal experience helped in advancing her career. She is now the director of Corporate Philanthropy at Make-A-Wish Foundation of Central New York. Veley encourages those who are raising young children, working a full-time job, and staying up late to study to never give up. “You’re growing in ways you can’t imagine as you maneuver this process,” says Veley, “You’re setting an example (and trust me, many are watching) and you, too, are going to graduate with a degree from Syracuse University! That is an honor and a privilege, and a representation of who you are and how hard you’ve worked.”