February 23, 2021
Saginaw Valley State University was honored as a 2020-2021 Military Friendly School for its dedication to military student support services. SVSU was awarded with a Military Friendly Silver Designation by the company VIQTORY, which only a select group of institutions earn this prestigious honor.
Military Friendly Schools is the longest-running, most comprehensive review of college and university investments in serving military and veteran students. It is one of the most stringent surveys on the market, and its 2020-2021 Military Friendly Schools list is more exclusive than ever.
This is SVSU’s 10th year receiving this designation for providing excellent service to military-connected students. The university has received numerous recognitions at both the state and national level for being a military and veteran friendly institution for its procedures and policies that benefit military-connected students. One of SVSU’s greatest resources to its military-affiliated students is the Military Student Affairs Office.
The Military Student Affairs Office at SVSU is dedicated to the needs and concerns of all military-affiliated students and is staffed by a full-time director, the school certifying official, and Veterans Affairs student liaisons, who have all served in the military.
One student veteran in particular, Jake Kokowicz, has particularly benefited from the Military Student Affairs Office. Kokowicz served in the United States Marine Corps for over five years until he medically retired into 2018 and enrolled at SVSU, where he is pursuing a social work major and a minor in psychology. He expects to complete his bachelor's degree in May 2022.
The atmosphere from the Military Student Affairs Office was one of the main reasons why he chose SVSU.
“Everyone there was friendly and just wanted to help me be successful,” said the Vassar native.
The supportive atmosphere he experienced within the Military Students Affairs Office continued into every aspect of his campus experience.
“The students around me are extremely grateful for my service and are not afraid to tell me that. I get thank-you’s all the time for my service, which is nice, but they do not need to thank me,” said the social work major.
“I have a prosthetic left arm and the other students do not stare at me or make me feel uncomfortable. Instead, they ask me what happened and if there is anything they can do to help.”
His greatest on-campus support has been from Bethany Alford, the director of Military Student Affairs. Her dedication to his success empowered him to attend college.
“If it wasn't for Bethany Alford and the Military Student Affairs Office, I wouldn't be in school,” Kokowicz said. “The thought of going to school, registering for classes, paying for books, learning where everything is and how to do everything seemed extremely overwhelming.
“The military office had students in there who helped me with all those issues and helped ease the load on my shoulders. That office is an amazing resource for military-connected students attending SVSU.”
Kokowicz was so inspired by the support he received that he has become a student liaison to help other students like him.
“I now work in the Military Student Affairs Office so I can be there for other military-connected students — just like they were there for me. We never leave a service member behind. Semper Fi!”