University of Oregon is this month’s Featured Campus! “Mia and Tyler, co-Team Leaders, have done a great job of putting on lots of fun events with great student turnout. The whole team has worked together well to navigate the many changes over the last two years. Their Peer Advisors do regular outreach and support students in every area of life,” says PAVE Program Coordinator Riva Szostkowski.
Mia and Tyler join Maria Kalnbach, Nontraditional and Veteran Student Engagement and Success Coordinator, in leading a team of nine Peer Advisors. The team primarily serves the 100 or so newer student veterans within UO’s military-connected community of around 500 students.
The UO team is happy to have the pandemic-induced lull in activities behind them. Mia says that “Now that things are in-person again, response to PAVE is incredibly positive.” “Comparing this term to early 2021, I just feel like there’s so much more optimism for the program and getting involved—it’s kind of remarkable,” Tyler adds.
With more opportunities for in-person outreach and interactions come more chances to directly assist student veterans who are struggling. Mia and Tyler can share numerous examples of instances where they and the Peer Advisors have been able to make a big difference in the lives of fellow students through PAVE.
In one instance, Mia was able to help a student connect with affordable housing and childcare, and now that student is thriving. Another student vet had had trouble accessing various resources at UO. Tyler connected with them and helped that student find and benefit from the food pantry on campus, as well as provided the student with warm handoffs to other much-needed resources on and off campus. “I just find it so rewarding to be able to like actually help other veterans… to kind of give them that tool like I was given when I needed help,” says Tyler.
The UO team has made a deliberate effort to make their military-connected community as inclusive as possible—extending their outreach and community-building efforts beyond newer student vets to also serve the spouses and children of veterans. Mia’s been told by multiple military-connected students that they feel like they truly belong in the community, which wasn’t always the case before.
They have also made strides in drawing more women veterans into the community: “I’m really excited to see more women veterans coming into the center as well, I really noticed a shift and I think that PAVE is making a difference with that,” says Maria.
Way to go, UO PAVE! We are so appreciative of the great work you’re doing.