University of Oklahoma is our Featured Campus for September! “The University of Oklahoma (OU) PAVE team has generated phenomenal momentum on campus with the opening of their new Veteran Zone space and several successful outreach events. The team has demonstrated consistent dedication to connecting and engaging with the students they serve and partnering with other veteran organizations like SVA,” says Emma Czajka, PAVE Program Coordinator.
The OU PAVE Team consists of Daniel Glass (Team Leader), Jennifer Trimmer (Director of Veteran Student Services), Peer Advisors Carla Laguna, Brian Garza, Scot Leverson, David Taitano, Logan Fuchs, and Jose Lopez de Loera, and Matt Hamilton (Campus Champion). While their military-connected and veteran students number in the thousands, they focus their efforts on serving the nearly 200 first semester military-connected students.
Launching PAVE at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic proved challenging. Still, through hard work and dedication, PAVE at OU continues to grow both in scope and impact. “I think this year is especially robust with engagement because one, the work that the Peer Advisors have put in to establish the program and get it out there and two, the SVA has really ramped up this year,” says Daniel.
Despite challenges, according to Jennifer Trimmer, “In April the stars just aligned” for the OU PAVE team, and one of those stars was the opening of their new Veteran Zone on campus. The Veteran Zone has opened up more opportunities to engage with all members of the campus, especially student veterans. “There’s a lot of organic conversations happening in the Vet Zone,” says Scot, “We end up helping a lot more people that way.” According to Carla, more faculty are showing interest and getting involved in engaging with student veterans on campus.
PAVE’s positive impact at OU has included the PAVE team members themselves. “I was that student who didn’t want any help, who wanted to figure it out on my own. I didn’t feel like I had any friends or any community and that’s why I wanted to join the PAVE community,” says Brian. Overall, the OU PAVE team is responding to and helping fulfill a need for community among student veterans on campus. “PAVE is the base of something that’s bigger for us as veterans because we are a community and we talk … PAVE represents that and us advocating for each other and networking with each other. We need to keep it going as veterans,” says David.
Keep up the great work supporting your student veterans and military-connected students, OU!