After serving almost eight years in the Marine Corps, veteran and first-year NOVA student Dylan Hoffstatter is working toward another one of his childhood dreams. Growing up in Wisconsin, he wanted to do two things: join the Marine Corps and study medicine.
Dylan knew from the beginning that these two things didn’t go together, considering there are no medical positions in the Marine Corps. But that hasn’t stopped him from charging forward to achieve his goals.
“I knew going into it, that what I did with the Marine Corps was not going to go into what I wanted to do after. But I did it anyway,” Dylan said. “Now that I’m out, I’m going to school and I want to get my first degree in science and kinesiology. From there, I want to go to medical school and eventually become a plastic surgeon.”
Dylan’s determination and kind spirit are two characteristics that make him a perfect candidate for Veteran of the Month for December, according to Military and Veteran Program Adviser La Chante Thomas.
“Dylan comes by the office and he’s just really friendly. We see Dylan and we know his name and he knows us,” Thomas said. “He’s a cool guy and he represents the military and NOVA very well. He has a good personality and he’s a good first candidate for Veteran of the Month.”
Dylan moved to Virginia after he received a recommendation from a friend who also said he should get his start in his education career at NOVA. Dylan admits he had a rough start because going from the military to the classroom is an adjustment and he didn’t visit the veterans’ office as often except to register for classes. But once he started visiting more frequently, he realized how much the office provides to veterans who are adjusting to college and civilian life.
“I didn’t come to this office very often for anything except when I was initially setting up. That was a big mistake,” he said. “Now I know, after being here for almost a year, that if there are any questions I have about literally anything that has to do with this school or anything that veterans would struggle with when they first get out [of the military], they can help or point you in the right direction of someone who can help.”
While some of the basic prerequisites are like taking “baby steps,” Dylan said he recognizes that many veterans have mastered a number of skills in the military and can fly right through those classes before moving on to core classes for their degree programs. NOVA’s class size is also something Dylan believes is very helpful in the educational process.
“Here at NOVA, the class sizes are great. Several of my classes I’ve had, there were around 15 students,” Dylan said. “For the instructor-student time, that’s great because they can take time to work out things with you individually.”
Thomas said it’s important to distribute information to veterans so they know the office at the Annandale Campus is welcoming and there to help them with anything they need. She said she wanted to start recognizing a veteran each month to show they’re appreciated and give other students and veterans the opportunity to get to know who they are.
“There’s so much more to veterans than anybody walking on campus knows. At some point, they have all served the country – meaning they’ve granted us freedoms,” she said passionately. “The least we can do is find out who they are, where they’ve served, some things about them, what they like to do in their spare time, how they like it here at NOVA and who they’re interacting with. I have a love for veterans, and it’s also important we know who they are and treat them with respect.”
Dylan advises veterans who are thinking about pursuing a degree to go for it and don’t wait or put it off for another time.
“Don’t hesitate. Don’t wait. If you’re thinking about going to school, just do it. Because if you put it off and put it off, you’re more than likely not going to want to go,” he said. “I know this, because even though I’m here now, I’ve been tempted to just stop and get a full-time job. If you do that, you’re not going to continue. If you want an education, go strong into it.”
Media Contact: Raytevia Evans | 703.425.5839 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Northern Virginia Community College is the largest institution of higher education in the Commonwealth of Virginia and one of America's largest community colleges. NOVA enrolls more than 75,000 students at its six campuses in Alexandria, Annandale, Loudoun, Manassas, Springfield and Woodbridge, and through the Extended Learning Institute. For more information about NOVA and its programs or services, call 703-323-3000 or visit the College's Web site, www.nvcc.edu.