Angel Roman was not thinking of college when he graduated from Waterbury Arts Magnet School in 2013. In fact, the Waterbury native says that almost immediately after graduating high school, he shipped off to boot camp. From boot camp, Roman served in the Marines for four years. Far away from home, he was stationed in Camp Lejeune in North Carolina where he was with the Third Battalion, Sixth Marines and from there, was off to Quantico in Virginia. At Quantico, he was a tactics instructor training future Marine Corp officers basic infantry tactics. Then, for eight months, Roman was aboard a ship deployed to Yemen for embassy reinforcement.
When he was honorably discharged from service, he returned to Connecticut without a plan. “I had no idea what to do after the Marines,” he said, “I was going to reenlist.” An army recruiter convinced him otherwise—why didn’t he give college a try? So he did. After being out of school for four years, Roman recalls being nervous when he walked through the doors of NVCC, but the experience he had his first semester gave him a motivational boost. His professors were helpful and he passed three classes with As. “My teachers saw potential in me that I never saw, and it motivated me to work on my GPA,” he recalls.
And work on his GPA he did. He was accepted into NVCC’s chapter of national honors society, Phi Theta Kappa (PTK), and this year, he received perhaps the best news since starting college: he will be attending Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT, as part of a cohort of the prestigious Posse Foundation Veterans Program. Those accepted into the program attend college as part of a team of veterans—a Veterans posse. Participants receive training prior to matriculating on campus and mentoring once enrolled. After applying GI Bill, Yellow Ribbon, and other available funding from the government, Posse’s partner institutions guarantee that full tuition is covered for all four years.
The Posse Veterans Program identifies and supports post-9/11 veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces who have tremendous leadership and academic potential. Posse looks for veterans interested in pursuing bachelor’s degrees at top colleges and universities who are excited to be active, engaged leaders in those campus communities. By creating cohorts of veterans, preparing them for the college experience, and supporting them through graduation, the Posse Veterans Program ensures veterans’ success in college and, ultimately, in the workforce. Roman, who has interests in business, real estate, and one day running a business of his own, is grateful for NVCC English Professor Lisa Shuchter who nominated him. “She is a phenomenal, passionate teacher,” he said explaining that he had no idea she had nominated him in the first place.
When asked about any tips he has for incoming students, he says, “don’t get discouraged. When it gets tough, push through, you’re not alone, look for help.” Roman hopes to graduate from NVCC with his associate degree in 2020 and go onto studying economics while at Wesleyan. A full time student and stay-at-home dad, he says the flexibility, encouragement, and understanding he received while a student at the college made pursing his education possible. “If you can’t find the motivation, there are others to motivate. My wife and kid motivate me,” he said.