North Central College - Naperville, IL

Ryan Brazel

Veteran Student

Ryan Brazel ’14 called his college decision a “no brainer.” After interacting with North Central College’s admissions staff, the navy petty officer knew where he belonged.

“The staff at North Central was just remarkable helping me through a process that could have been a major catastrophe,” said Brazel, who was battling the clock to find a school after returning home from his fourth deployment. “I had minimal time, not to mention I was transferring from a two-year college. The wonderful people here made sure I was up and running.”

North Central has a variety of programs and events in place to help student veterans transition from military life to campus life. Some focus on academic and financial issues while others are purely recreational.  One of Brazel’s favorites is “Pizza with the President.”

“I would definitely recommend North Central to fellow military members,” he said. “This College has been one of the most military-friendly schools I have ever encountered.”

Brazel is doing his part to make it even better.

“My goal is to help all vets who come through here, from beginning to end; to help them find everything they need, from bookstores to classrooms. To make sure they’re receiving their benefits and are able to pay their bills. I want to make sure the percentage of vets who graduate here is 100 percent. They have each put in the time and earned their right to be here, whether they went through combat or not.”

Brazel is working with fellow veterans, the local Walgreens and veterans’ program advisor Dr. Renard Jackson—someone Brazel insists “must have been a vet in a previous life”—to send care packages to active units serving in Afghanistan. He’s excited about the group’s potential for growth.

“The more we work together, the better it’s going to be for future student veterans,” he said.

A boatswains mate second class petty officer in the U.S. Navy, Brazel has completed two tours of duty in Iraq and two in the Arabian Sea. He plans to major in exercise science.


Tasha Hobbs

Veteran Student

Life can get pretty hectic for chemistry major Tasha Hobbs '14. Between classes, research, work and caring for her young son, there’s rarely, if ever, a moment of free time.

“It makes for a very busy life,” said Hobbs, who served in the U.S. Army for four years. “Sometimes, it’s hard to find balance between everything.”

It helps to have professors who are on her side. That’s always been the case at North Central College.

“Whenever I find myself struggling, I can talk to any of my professors and they help me by taking the time to listen and give advice when necessary. These are people who have succeeded in my field and are my role models,” she said. “The guidance they offer is much appreciated. They understand what their students go through because they’ve been there.”

Hobbs looked at a variety of colleges when she made the decision to return to school. North Central’s location and size made it a perfect fit. She was nervous about pursuing a chemistry degree at first, but a meeting with her advisor changed that.

“He helped me see that first and foremost, I had to believe in myself,” she said.

Hobbs serves as a student mentor for a veteran’s group on campus. She is also active in SMACS (Student Members of the American Chemical Society).

“Going from the military to college was easy because there are so many people here willing to help through the transition. We (veterans) don’t have to figure all of this out alone. There’s a great network of support for us,” she said. “I knew I made the right decision in choosing North Central College.”


James Davidson

Veteran Student

James Davidson '13 planned to pursue a career in law enforcement when he enrolled at North Central College. That quickly changed when he took a general education chemistry course.

“It opened my eyes to the field of chemistry and I changed my major,” said Davidson, who’s so fascinated by the subject that he plans to pursue a Ph.D. in analytical chemistry after completing his undergraduate studies. “My passion came from the CHM 100 class. No matter what context you think about, chemistry is an essential part of it.  It’s in the plastics that make up my laptop, the liquid display of its monitor, the colors in my clothing, my toothpaste… Before my first fall term, I didn’t know what a molecule was. [Next fall] I'll be beginning my Ph.D. in chemistry.”

It’s not just the faculty members at North Central who have stood out to Davidson—he’s been equally impressed by the admission staff.

“Dealing with government paperwork is a monolith of a task,” said Davidson, a former member of the U.S. Marine Corps. “The admission department handled it with great efficiency. There’s never been an issue.”

Davidson stays active on campus outside of class. He’s a member of two North Central student organizations: the Cycling Club and Student Members of the American Chemical Society (SMACS).

“I certainly would recommend North Central College to other veterans,” he said. “The student body has been quite accepting and open to veterans; I know a couple other vets in the science department. Also, a hat tip to our fearless advisor and mentor Dr. Renard Jackson. He’s always on top of his game whenever any of us veterans need anything. He’s an outstanding friend to have.”


Artists present papermaking workshop to connect veterans, civilians

North Central College’s art department will host the Combat Paper Project, a daylong artistic workshop involving veterans and artists, on Oct. 30.

North Central College’s art department will host the Combat Paper Project, an artistic collaboration initiated and presented by artists Drew Cameron and Drew Matott that involves veterans, artists and academic institutions.

Based out of art studios throughout the country, the Combat Paper Project comes to North Central’s studios and campus on Tuesday, Oct. 30. From 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. in room 17 at Meiley-Swallow Hall, Cameron and Matott will demonstrate their project utilizing papermaking workshops to help veterans reconcile and share their personal experiences.

North Central College recognized as a Military Friendly School for 2013

James Davidson, Michael Dooley and Thomas Andre are among student veterans.
North Central College has been named a 2013 Military Friendly School by G.I. Jobs magazine.

North Central College has been named a 2013 Military Friendly School by G.I. Jobs magazine.

The 2013 Military Friendly Schools list honors the top 15 percent of colleges, universities and trade schools that are doing the most to embrace America’s military service members and veterans as students. This is the second consecutive year North Central College has earned the recognition.

A student-veteran remembers

Pellicano received the 2012 Outstanding Major in Art Award
Senior Giuseppe Pellicano remembers fallen soldiers through his art.

As the country pauses to remember its military heroes over Memorial Day, one North Central College student-veteran found his own way to pay tribute to soldiers lost in war. Giuseppe Pellicano ’12 of Naperville crafts military boots that memorialize soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country. He receives requests from family members for the boots and personalizes them with the soldiers’ names, ranks and dates of their death. He received a Richter Independent Study Fellowship from North Central to help fund his project, titled “Left, Left, Left, Right, Left.”

Giuseppe Pellicano chosen outstanding major in art

Giuseppe Pellicano '12
Giuseppe Pellicano of Naperville was awarded the 2012 Outstanding Major in Art Award at North Central College.

Giuseppe Pellicano of Naperville was awarded the 2012 Outstanding Major in Art Award during Honors Day May 15 at North Central College. He was also inducted to SALUTE, the Veteran’s National Honor Society.

Pellicano is a senior majoring in studio art at North Central College and has been accepted to a graduate program in art at Northern Illinois University where he will work toward a master’s degree in fine arts.

North Central College is active partner in serving its student veterans

As the number of veterans on campus has continued to grow, North Central College has established a formal program to welcome and serve this population.

Since 2009 when North Central College joined the Yellow Ribbon program, the number of veterans on campus has nearly tripled. Currently, North Central serves 23 student veterans—most are transfer students—and expects this population to increase as more troops make their way home and the College’s commitment to serve this population continues to grow.

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