“It seemed like it was too good to be true when I first found out about it,” says former marine staff sergeant Terry D. Roberts when he recalls learning about the Yellow Ribbon Program for veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan.
Today, thanks to the tuition scholarship available through Yellow Ribbon, Roberts has an MBA degree from one of the top business schools in the country and is working as promotions manager at MidwayUSA.
“It is our experience that applicants with military backgrounds make excellent MBA students,” says Evan Bouffides, assistant dean and director of MBA admissions at Olin Business School, which throughout its history has aggressively sought and recruited candidates with military backgrounds.
“They possess certain qualities and skills that allow them to excel both inside and outside of the classroom, and to be valuable members of the Olin community,” he says. “The same characteristics that they bring to their graduate studies — leadership, integrity, dedication and hard work — are exactly those skills that corporate America covets.”
For years, Olin has provided exceptional scholarship opportunities for many former junior military officers and non-commissioned officers through Olin Veterans Association (OVA) Scholarships.
More recently, Olin has become a full partner in the Yellow Ribbon Program. For candidates who are admitted to Olin and who are eligible for the Yellow Ribbon, all tuition costs are covered jointly by Olin Business School and the Department of Veterans Affairs.
“We currently have about 35 students from the military in our graduate programs, six of whom are in our full-time MBA Program,” Bouffides says. “Of these, 21 are Yellow Ribbon eligible and thus have their full tuition covered. For those who are not Yellow Ribbon eligible, we offer specific scholarship opportunities through the OVA. In addition, the OVA provides a terrific support structure and network that serve to assist our military candidates in transitioning successfully into the business world.”
The Yellow Ribbon Program, established by the federal government in 2008, allows institutions of higher learning in the United States to voluntarily enter into an agreement with the Department of Veterans Affairs to fund tuition and fee expenses at their school.
“The philanthropic help of the university made the decision to attend an easy one for me,” says Terry D. Roberts, former Marine Corps staff sergeant who earned an Executive MBA from Olin this year through the YellowRibbon Program.
“I would encourage veterans to take advantage of the Yellow Ribbon Program,” Roberts says. “It seemed like it was too good to be true when I first found out about it. It opens so many doors and helps veterans gain education and experience they might never have been able to.”
Roberts says he would not have been able to attend WUSTL without the program’s assistance, but is glad he did.
“It’s an amazing opportunity to prepare veterans for the highly competitive marketplace that will continue to evolve with technology, new best-practices and international relationships,” Roberts says.
“If I had to do it over again, I would not have changed anything. Olin has a plethora of resources for its students. From the fellow students who have amazing workplace experience, to the world-renowned professors, authors, and local business leaders, Olin never ceases to communicate and provide these resources to the best of their ability.”
Olin has made a big impact on many veterans.
“On my very first day of class I walked into Simon Hall and literally, the first person to greet me was the associate dean of Olin Business School,” says Tod Stephens, who is in the joint MBA/JD program. Stephens, a 2001 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, completed three tours of duty in Iraq.
“He stuck out his hand and in using my first name, said ‘Tod, thank you for your service to our country and we hope you have a great time here at Olin.’ While that was satisfying personally to me, it expressed how everyone here at Olin thinks about the students,” Stephens says. “They are here to teach, to help, to assist the students first and foremost beyond anything else. “
For more information on the Yellow Ribbon Program, visit gibill.va.gov/benefits/post_911_gibill/yellow_ribbon_program.html. For more information on the Olin Veterans Association, visit apps.olin.wustl.edu/orgs/ova.