Veterans Day Spotlight: Luis Charboneau on Helping Other Veterans Find Success

November 10, 2023

Luis Charboneau is a dedicated NOVA staff member whose passion is helping others — specifically those who, like him, have transitioned from military life. He’s been at NOVA since 2013, when he started working part time while also taking classes. Luis became a full-time NOVA staff member after receiving his bachelor’s degree from George Mason University.

Tell us a little bit about yourself. 
I’m a first-generation student from Miami, Florida. My dream was to always join the Navy to travel the world and see new places. I wanted a lot of new experiences!

I’m a veteran; I was in the Navy for five years. I was stationed in Norfolk, and I decided to get out. I wanted to go to school but was afraid to go to a four-year institution right out of the gate. I felt that NOVA was a great fit for me.

I met my wife at NOVA. She was at Mason and also a tutor at NOVA — that’s how we met. Then we started dating, got married and now have a 2-year-old daughter. My daughter really keeps me on my toes. We enjoy going to parks around Northern Virginia.

Luis Charbenau and family

I like to stay busy by reading and going to the gym. I also love being involved with veterans’ activities.

What brought you to NOVA? 
I was looking into schools, and although George Mason popped up a lot during my research, NOVA felt like a more friendly environment fresh after the military. I felt it was a better fit to take me in and get me used to the college life.

I had a great experience and felt more comfortable as time went on. I used my education benefits at NOVA. I found out about the Work-Study Program within the VA office and started working at NOVA part time in 2013, where I was on work-study status until 2016. Through work-study, I was able to work directly with other veterans who had also taken the path of pursuing school.

What did you study?
I studied business administration at NOVA, and I continued to study business administration at George Mason — I graduated in 2017.

Tell us about your experience at NOVA (i.e., professors you liked and friends you met).    
I was part of the Veterans Club when I attended NOVA. It was great to meet fellow veterans. Even as a student veteran I was helping other interested veterans who wanted to come to the College.

I want to send a big shout-out to Dr. Takesha McMiller. She’s brought NOVA’s Military and Veterans Services a long way, even from when I was a student.

I also really want to thank Dr. David Conroy and Dr. Richard Semmler. They were my two favorite professors and both taught math.

What would you tell a student coming to NOVA? 
I would tell them that it’s a lot of information. It can be nerve-wracking, but everyone is here to help. Meeting with folks face to face helps so much. It can be a lot to navigate, especially for veterans. So many people are happy to see and talk to me because I’ve had the same experience.

Using my GI Bill funding was pretty seamless. NOVA was definitely what inspired me to transition from a work-study to a full-time staff member. Everyone was so helpful in walking me through the steps, walking me through my degree pathways and helping me use my benefits — it was so inspiring.

Topics: featured article, student success