In recognition of the 75th anniversary of the GI Bill, Syracuse University student veterans and graduates share their stories.

Student Veteran Maria HeldMaria Held G‘19

I am the youngest of three daughters. My parents brought us to the United States from Argentina in hopes of finding a better future. I aimed for a better future by enlisting into the Army in 2008 and rising through the ranks to Staff Sergeant. I completed my undergrad online while activated in 2017 and decided I was not satisfied and wanted more for my career and education. I decided to commission and earn my graduate degree. Syracuse University along with the GI Bill allowed me to pursue these two goals simultaneously without financial burden or distraction. Without the help of all the veteran resources on campus and the very attentive Mr. Doss, I believe that the experience would have been far too overwhelming for me attending classes on campus. When planning on graduate school and commissioning I had other paths I could have taken. I’m more than happy with the path I chose and do not have one single regret. I will forever be grateful to Syracuse for giving me the opportunity to achieve my goals and ever proud to be Orange.


Daniel Lewis ‘20

I am presently attending Syracuse University’s School of Information Studies scheduled to graduate with my graduate degree in May 2020. I enlisted in the Marine Corps in 2007 and have had a great privilege of utilizing the GI Bill. Though the military transformed me into an adult, it is the GI Bill that has opened the doorway to my success. Building on my military experience it has helped to grow the skills that the civilian world requires— to take what I thought I wanted to do and mold it into what would lead to a career and not just a job. With this education my family and I can both continue our public service to the country, bridging the civilian military divide wherever possible.


Tillman Scholar for Syracuse University Katy Quartaro

Katy Quartaro ’18, G ’20

The Post 9/11 GI Bill has allowed me to focus on being a student at a great university without having to worry so much about how to pay for tuition and books, take care of my rent, and feed myself during the semester. The GI Bill, and Syracuse University’s participation in the Yellow Ribbon Program, really make a high-quality education more attainable; I am not sure I could have afforded such a great school without these benefits. Being able focus on my education and the next steps instead of financial aid and bursar bills has helped me make the most of my college experience. It is also great to be at a university with dedicated staff that is so ready to help its students navigate the GI benefits and make sure students are getting their funding squared away– I think that makes a huge difference in stress and worry. It is also wonderful to hear about Syracuse University’s Chancellor William Tolley and his role in developing the GI Bill and the “GI Bulge.”


Student Veteran Eric KesslerEric Kessler ‘20

I enlisted in the Army in September 2009 with the delayed entry program and went to basic training in February 2010. I deployed to Iraq in 2010 with 1st Cavalry Division, Ft. Hood, TX and to Afghanistan in 2015 with the 101st Airborne Division, Ft. Campbell, KY. In 2016, I left active duty for further education and joined the Army Reserves out of Oswego, NY. Eventually I was medically retired in January 2019. The Post 9/11 GI Bill has allowed me to further my education and attend Syracuse University, which I believed to be out of my financial capabilities. Syracuse University’s Yellow Ribbon program combined with the Post 9/11 GI Bill is allowing me to achieve a Bachelor’s of Science in Mechanical Engineering, the first in my family to do so as well as being the first of my family to attend and graduate from Syracuse University. Without having served in the military and being awarded the Post 9/11 GI Bill, my future would have been unknown, and the pursuit of furthering my education would not have been at the top of my priority list. My goal of becoming an engineer with a degree from Syracuse University is becoming a reality thanks to the Post 9/11 GI Bill.


Student Veteran Daniel Cordial Daniel Cordial ’18 G’20

I served in the Army from 2006-2011 and graduated with a BA in Political Science in 2018. I am presenting in the EMPA program with an expected graduation date of spring 2020. The G.I. Bill has helped me reach levels of academic and personal success that, at one point in my life I thought were absolutely unattainable. Syracuse University has helped foster that success by allowing me to attend this prestigious university and having tuition fully covered through the Yellow Ribbon Program, which helps cover costs the G.I. Bill does not. It is because of this that I can now say that I have been fortunate enough to live and achieve the ‘American Dream.’ Although the investment that enabled me to receive the G.I. Bill was a large one, I feel it was worth it because I would not have this opportunity afforded to me otherwise.


Charlie Poag ‘21

After being in the Marine Corps for 16 years I wanted to start a new chapter in my life that was more focused on my family.  I knew I needed to go back to school to get into the career I wanted, and I knew I wanted to attend Syracuse University to obtain the remarkable education they offer.  If it wasn’t for the G.I. Bill it wouldn’t have been possible for me to obtain such a valuable education and care for my family at the same time.  It is allowing me to pursue my dream and be an active member in my local community as well as work closely with other veterans that have similar stories, and for that I am grateful.

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