With a strong family history of service, including a great-grandfather who was a POW in Malaysia during World War II, a career in the military seemed like a natural choice for Nicholas Standford. Source: Australian Catholic University.
Nicholas spent four years in the army as an infantry soldier and was discharged in February 2019. He then enrolled in a Bachelor of Paramedicine at ACU after a friend who was studying at the university told him it had “an awesome” paramedicine program.
In joining the university, Nicholas had access to ACU’s innovative Student Veterans Support Program (SVSP), which was established by the university to support student military veterans, as they make the transition from military to university life.
“I think the biggest issue faced by student veterans is the culture shock of going from a very disciplined environment where everything is planned for you and it’s all very structured and regimented, to an environment where it is very individually driven and casual”, said Nicholas.
“Not having studied in a university sense in a very long time meant I had to learn how to reference and structure assignments all over again. The SVSP helped me understand that I wasn’t alone, and that I had someone to talk to about university stresses that can be unique to student veterans.
“Also, the opportunity to travel to Los Angeles in January this year to attend the Student Veterans of America National Conference was a hugely beneficial experience.”
As part of its initiatives to support student veterans, ACU sponsored Nicholas and another SVSP participant to attend the 2020 US Student Veteran Association’s National Conference (NatCon) in Los Angeles, California. NatCon is the largest annual gathering of student veterans, advocates, thought-leaders, stakeholders, and supporters in higher education in the world.
Nicholas said that he planned to implement much of what he had learnt at the conference and that there were common experiences with the US Student Veterans that transcended national boundaries.
“NatCon has given me many tools and skills to help build and develop ACU’s Student Veterans Program into a key part of the university system and help others understand that veterans aren’t there to be helped, that we can help and can be an integral part of the university.”