WIU Nominated for 2023 Student Veteran Leader and Veteran Champion of the Year in Higher Education by G.I. Jobs


Western Illinois University had one student leader and faculty member selected out of all institutions of higher learning in the nation as one of the top 30 Student Veteran Leaders and one of the top 40 Veteran Champions of the Year in Higher Education for 2023 by G.I. Jobs. WIU student veteran Michael Hendrickson and WIU Associate Professor of Recreation, Park, Tourism, and Hospitality (RPTH) Jeremy Robinett were selected for these respective awards.

“When I think of the military terms ‘above and beyond,’ Michael comes immediately to mind,” said WIU Veterans Resource Director Ronald Pettigrew. “During the time he has worked for me, he has hit it out of the park. Any task I give him, with little to no guidance, he excels at it. He is one of those individuals I have to tell to go home, not come in on weekends, or do extra when another staff is sick or there is a project with his name attached to it.”

Hendrickson’s background in electronics engineering and computer science, along with his academic achievements and 6 Sigma Yellow Belt Certification as an IPC Specialist, make him an exceptional student.

The G.I. Jobs Student Veteran Leader exemplifies excellence throughout academics and has made meaningful contributions to their school, fellow student veterans and the community they serve. These leaders embody the spirit of leadership, teamwork and contribute to campus and community activities and initiatives.

“Michael has set a new standard of what I expect for graduate and undergraduate students. As a self-starter, active listener and learner, he not only hears what you say but asks thoughtful questions and then comes up with a detailed plan and recruits and trains others, including senior faculty, to accomplish it,” Pettigrew said.

Hendrickson’s academic achievements include a 4.0 GPA in his Agriculture Science degree courses and an overall 3.84 GPA. His accomplishments showcase his critical thinking, academic excellence, professionalism and cultural competence.

The Veterans Champion of the Year in Higher Education Award is given to those who advocate for veterans’ success at institutions of higher learning. Eligibility requires a proven track record of advocating for veteran recruitment, enrollment, retention, graduation and job placement and bridging the gap between veterans and civilian students.

“When I think about the eligibility criteria of the Veteran Champions of the Year in Higher Education Award, namely, someone who has not only demonstrated a proven track record of advocating on behalf of military veterans by seeking to improve their recruitment, enrollment, retention, graduation or job placement but also someone who has been successful in building bridges within the cultural gap between veterans and civilian students, I can think of no one who seeks to enable military veterans’ success in institutions of higher learning (IHL) more than Jeremy Robinett,” Pettigrew said.

“I count myself blessed to be part of a team advocating on behalf of our veterans, military service students and their dependents,” Robinett said. “Our veterans and military service members are often first-generation and/or non-traditional students who successfully balance their familial responsibilities and classes. They do all of this while learning to navigate the unwritten policies and traditions of higher education. As a faculty member, I feel privileged to help them map paths to success and to serve as a liaison for them when needed and I greatly appreciate the richness of experiences they bring to classroom discussions and assignments.”

For more information on WIU’s Veterans Resource Center, visit wiu.edu/veterans. For more information on G.I. Jobs Awards, visit gijobs.com/.

***Courtesy of Western Illinois University***

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