Program Helps Military Service Members Chase Career Aspirations - - No One Gets You Closer

Program Helps Military Service Members Chase Career Aspirations

ADA, OK -- Many area colleges will begin classes next week, but thanks to a new academic program, if you're a military veteran it's not too late to sign up.

College is a place to expand the mind.

Students come from all walks of life, some just have a longer service record than others.

"I was in the service from 77 to 79," said Gary Spikes.

"I served for 13 years in the Air Force active duty," said Patrick Hicks, now an employee with the program.

"I joined the military right out of high school in 1985 and just retired in 2012," said Dennis Schenenberger, an academic counselor with Veterans Upward Bound.

"I served in 1970 to 1972," said Jackie Harper, a student at ECU studying human resources.

Veterans Upward Bound, a federally funded education program, helps veterans, reservists, and National Guard members with admissions, financial aid, and academic skills, to complete post-secondary education

Gary Spikes is now a counselor with the program and says he takes great pride in helping fellow service members.

"What was given to me I get to give back," said Spikes.

"Sometimes making that transition to the academic world, that's a challenge in it of itself," said program director Mary Meeks.

In the program's relatively short history, more than 1,300 veterans have gone on to complete college or vocational school.

"Seeing those names, I know those faces and I remember some of the challenges," said Meeks as she gazed out on stacks of paper bearing the names of beneficiaries.

On average the program helps around 180 veterans--like Jackie Harper--every semester.

"Yeah, I'm trying to hit the books before Monday," said Harper. "Maybe get a jump on getting ahead of the teachers."

Graduates often return to help serve others.

"I think it is extremely important," said Patrick Hicks. "Getting started is the difficult part and the people at Veteran Upward Bound they take care of all of that for you."

"Being able to show them the same benefits that I've received is probably the greatest benefit that I could ever receive," said Dennis Schenenberger.

With many sharing the sentiment: it'll be the career they have until they retire.

"Without a doubt," said Spikes. "Like I said there's no feeling like it. It's just lovely, pure and simple."

The Ada office of Veterans Upward Bound covers the southeast quadrant of the state, which is east of I-35 and south of I-40.

For application and contact information, call or email Mary Meeks at 580-559-5541 and

 There office is located at: 808 E Main, Ada, OK 74820