Six current or former members of the military join SIA class of 2017

From left to right: Brian Milhoan, Jeffrey Morgan, Jason Gibson, Nathan Lawrence, Jason Isgrigg, and Interim Dean James Houck
From left to right: Brian Milhoan, Jeffrey Morgan, Jason Gibson, Nathan Lawrence, Jason Isgrigg, and Interim Dean James Houck Credit: Mary Szmolko

Among the 58 members in the Penn State School of International Affairs class of 2017 are six current or former members of the U.S. armed forces. Penn State’s commitment to serving the educational needs of veterans and current servicemembers is only part of the reason they chose to pursue their M.I.A. degrees at SIA.

As Penn State alumni, Navy Lt. Jason Gibson and Army Sgt. Nathan Lawrence knew of the SIA program, Penn State’s military friendliness, and all that the program and Penn State have to offer. For them, there was no other choice.

“It was a perfect match. I love the area; I love the campus; I love the program,” said Lawrence, who was realeased from active duty is now on Ready Reserve. “It is unique in its scale and quality and those two things taken together make it a strong program.”

Both Gibson and Lawrence are focusing on the International Security Studies track. Gibson is concentrating on Eastern Europe and aiming for a future in the Navy’s Foreign Area Officer program in that geographical area.

Lawrence, a former Army intelligence analyst, wants to transition into a non-military intelligence field. He’s considering incorporating other fields, such as counterterrorism.

Another Army intelligence member, Capt. Jason Isgrigg came to SIA to advance his intelligence knowledge and its direct application to his military work, as well as for a future career upon his military retirement. Isgrigg chose SIA after careful research of international affairs programs, and because of his interactions with the admissions team and professors during the application and admitting process, which stood out among other schools.

“This program prepares graduates to begin making an immediate impact in their chosen professions,” Isgrigg said. “SIA has gained distinction in the international affairs community, with its faculty comprised of accomplished academics and practitioners, all of whom are leaders in their areas of expertise.”

Army Capt. Jeffrey Morgan chose SIA because the flexible program allowed him to craft his own unique study track: a hybrid of environment and resources and conflict resolution. With his passion for traveling and different cultures, he knew SIA was the perfect match for his educational interests.

Penn State is currently ranked as the second best university for veterans, according to U.S. News & World Report, based on benefits the University offers to help veterans and active-duty servicemembers pursue a college education.

"I chose SIA because I heard that Penn State was an extremely veteran friendly school," said Army Sgt. Brian Milhoan, honorably relieved from active duty five months ago."Because of that and my interest in the national security track, I knew I wanted to go to SIA."

One example of Penn State's commitment is the University’s Office of Veterans Programs, which is a comprehensive, direct service unit for veterans and VA benefits recipients, providing services in outreach, certification, and general counseling for veterans and their families. The University also runs the Clearinghouse for Military Family Readiness, which was established in 2011 to provide support to military families and those who serve them. The organization focuses on catalyzing new research designed to translate science from multiple disciplines into the development, implementation, dissemination, and evaluation of evidence-based programs and practices designed to bolster military family readiness, resilience, and well-being.

Daniel Marulanda rounds out the military students in the class of 2017.